15

Keith Jarrett / Dennis Russell Davies: Ritual

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
In pianist Keith Jarrett's vast ECM catalogue, albums on which he does not play aren't exactly common, but nor are they completely uncommon; his 1974 double-disc set In the Light features a handful of tracks on which he performs, but its primary focus is on Jarrett the composer. Ditto Luminessence (1975), a trilogy of compositions for string orchestra and improviser Jan Garbarek—a precursor to Arbour Zena (1976), also featuring the Norwegian saxophonist and string orchestra, but also including Jarrett and bassist Charlie Haden as featured performers. That album is part of ECM's Re:solutions series of reissues—seven albums in all so far, four on CD for the first time, one previously only available for a limited time in Japan, and all also available in vinyl and high resolution digital formats. Another Re:solutions entry, Ritual remains a complete anomaly in Jarrett's discography: a composition written for solo piano in which he is not the featured performer.

A two-piece suite broken up more, most likely, to suit the needs of its original vinyl release than anything else, Ritual is unmistakably Jarrett, but it's a whole different experience to hear another pianist perform it—especially one like Davies, who comes largely from the classical world and is perhaps better known as a conductor whose whose work, beyond a 40-year relationship with Jarrett, includes ECM New Series classics like Arvo Pärt's Tabula Rasa (1984) (on which Jarrett performs, coincidentally), as well as the more recent Melodic Warrior (2013), from guitarist/composer Terje Rypdal.

Davies may have little connection to jazz, Americana, gospel and many of the other reference points which create the sum total that is Jarrett, but his performance of Ritual respects the composer's predilection, in this case, for the juxtaposition of touching impressionism and bolder dramaturgy. That this music is, indeed, scored may seem an anomaly for a pianist whose own solo recordings—from 1975's classic The Köln Concert to the overdue 2013 complete release of 1982's Concerts—Bregenz / München and more freshly minted Rio (2013)—are all about in-the-moment drawing of form from the ether. It's easy to forget that Jarrett, in his early days, was a more formal composer of significance for his two 1970s quartets, so it's unknown whether or not Ritual was a solo improvisation that he then scored, or did he actually compose the piece over time, with pen and paper at hand?

Ultimately it matters not, as the melodic disposition that is so often at the heart of everything Jarrett does remains a constant here, and Russell Davies' performance is both confident and assured. His touch may be a tad firmer than Jarrett's in the quieter moments, his attack more vehement in the more dramatic passages, but these are nothing more than the consequences of interpretation.

In the end, Russell Davies best articulates the most important aspects of this brief (just 32 minutes) yet superb recital in his brief notes: "although I could never, in improvisation, begin to assume his qualities as a creative force, Ritual is a vehicle through which I can bring his spirit to the listener. Those who know Keith will hear him in this music—it couldn't have been written by anyone else."

Track Listing: Ritual Part 1; Ritual Part 2.

Personnel: Dennis Russell Davies: piano.

Title: Ritual | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: ECM Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

Album Reviews
Year in Review
Album Reviews
General Articles
Live Reviews
Album Reviews
Genius Guide to Jazz
Extended Analysis
Album Reviews
Read more articles
J.S. Bach: The Well-Tempered Clavier – Book I

J.S. Bach: The...

ECM Records
2019

buy
After the Fall

After the Fall

ECM Records
2018

buy
La Fenice

La Fenice

ECM Records
2018

buy
Hamburg '72

Hamburg '72

ECM Records
2015

buy
Keith Jarrett: Creation

Keith Jarrett:...

ECM Records
2015

buy

Related Articles

Read Down & Dirty Album Reviews
Down & Dirty
By Jack Bowers
July 21, 2019
Read Sublunary Minds Album Reviews
Sublunary Minds
By Troy Dostert
July 21, 2019
Read Peace Planet & Box of Light Album Reviews
Peace Planet & Box of Light
By Don Phipps
July 21, 2019
Read Hyperuranion Album Reviews
Hyperuranion
By Glenn Astarita
July 21, 2019
Read The Turning Album Reviews
The Turning
By Bruce Lindsay
July 20, 2019
Read Reveries and Revelations Album Reviews
Reveries and Revelations
By John Eyles
July 20, 2019
Read Live/Shapeshifter Album Reviews
Live/Shapeshifter
By Don Phipps
July 20, 2019