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Keith Jarrett: Rio

Hrayr Attarian By

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Rio documents one of Keith Jarrett's improvised concerts for which the pianist is famous. Like most of his dozen or so such albums, the title refers to the location where it was recorded, but the similarity ends there, since the two-disc set is a very unique work.

36 years after his groundbreaking The Köln Concert (ECM, 1975), Jarrett has come out with another masterpiece which, with time, will most certainly become a classic. While the former record and others, like La Scala ECM, 1997) were more contemplative and introspective,Rio is a multidimensional record that bursts with hues both bright and dark—and not only because of the cover art, which is uncharacteristic both for Jarrett and the label. The nocturnesque "Part XII" shimmers with varied shades of blue in a musical moonlight, while the circular improvisations and hesitant notes on "Part IV" are bright, full-bodied and bittersweet, like Brazilian coffee.

Jarrett's pianism is inspired by various traditions, ranging from the free jazz of "Part X," where his edgy and fast playing brings Cecil Taylor to mind, but with Jarrett's own signature mellifluous touch, to the gospel-like and up-tempo "Part V" that is both uplifting and emotionally deep.

He expands his pallet to include sounds from other parts of the world on "Part VI," a tango with a sensually swaying rhythm, while the Zen-like "Part IX," with its Japanese, harp-like flow of notes, is nevertheless an instantly recognizable Jarrett piece.

No stranger to western classical music. Jarrett peppers his fugue, "Part VIII," with folk and rock sensibilities, and his melancholic and romantic sonata, "Part II," with the use of carefully placed silent pauses that are reminiscent of his own standards recordings.

Through it all, whether he is running through atonal and angular arpeggios as on "Part I" or channeling Harlem stride pianists on "Part III," or even exploring a soulful, R&B-like approach to the keys on "Part XI," Jarrett exhibits a style that is his most mature yet. And this album, as colorful and beautiful as the city it is named after, is a perfect paean to his instrument in its various guises.

Track Listing: CD1: Part I; Part II; Part III; Part IV; Part V; Part VI. CD2 : Part VII; Part VIII; Part IX; Part X; Part XI; Part XII; Part XIII; Part XIV; Part XV.

Personnel: Keith Jarrett: piano.

Title: Rio | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: ECM Records

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