464

Keith Jarrett: The Melody At Night, With You

David Adler By

Sign in to view read count
I once heard a well-known pianist refer to Keith Jarrett as "the Elton John of jazz," and it wasn’t a slam. I think James Taylor is more like it. Taylor’s music has a certain country-blues Americanism; it lives in a galaxy nearer to Jarrett’s gospel- and folk-tinged songs and improvisations. It’s true, Jarrett has always been unafraid of simple, pop-like harmony and melody. To everything there is a season: a time to sound like Bud Powell, a time to sound like Richard Wagner, and yes, a time to sound like James Taylor. For decades Jarrett has woven it all into one breathtaking story after another.

Now battling chronic fatigue syndrome, Jarrett is subdued but strong. On this new solo piano album he eschews extended improvisation, instead offering up disarmingly simple versions of ten classic songs. There’s almost no vocalizing or grunting or technical display. What there’s plenty of, as the title suggests, is melody.

"I Loves You Porgy" is sublime, especially the bridge. "I Got It Bad," the only track on which the virtuoso takes over, provides a window on how Jarrett uses a melody to guide his improvising. Off-the-cuff codas on this and "Someone To Watch Over Me" illustrate Jarrett’s ability to make any tune under the sun his very own. Two traditional songs, "Shenandoah" and the waltz "My Wild Irish Rose," are the strongest evocations of Jarrett’s James Taylor side. In contrast, he gives the Dietz/Schwartz tune "Something To Remember You By" the most harmonically complex treatment on the album. The sad and beautiful "Blame It On My Youth" segues into a thematically linked improvisation titled "Meditation," but the two sections are listed as a single track.

This spare, elegant recording contains valuable lessons for beginning jazz musicians who are eager to dive headlong into highly advanced theory. Lesson one: master basic harmony. When you think you’ve mastered it, master it some more. Listen to the magic Jarrett can create with a simple turnaround or resolution. Lesson two: never forget about melody. Melodies move people. Melodies move Keith Jarrett. And being moved is what music is for. Thank goodness we’ve got Jarrett to remind us.

Cyberhome: www.ecmrecords.com

| Record Label: ECM Records | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read Northern Adventures CD/LP/Track Review Northern Adventures
by Jack Bowers
Published: February 28, 2017
Read Collider CD/LP/Track Review Collider
by John Sharpe
Published: February 28, 2017
Read Eos CD/LP/Track Review Eos
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 28, 2017
Read More Than This CD/LP/Track Review More Than This
by Henning Bolte
Published: February 28, 2017
Read Road to Forever CD/LP/Track Review Road to Forever
by Jack Bowers
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Avenida Graham CD/LP/Track Review Avenida Graham
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 27, 2017
Read "Live At The Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival" CD/LP/Track Review Live At The Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival
by Troy Dostert
Published: January 3, 2017
Read "Hungarian Noir" CD/LP/Track Review Hungarian Noir
by James Nadal
Published: April 15, 2016
Read "Impermanence" CD/LP/Track Review Impermanence
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 3, 2016
Read "Absurdist Theater" CD/LP/Track Review Absurdist Theater
by Jerome Wilson
Published: October 9, 2016
Read "A Tribute to Herbie +1" CD/LP/Track Review A Tribute to Herbie +1
by Jack Bowers
Published: May 5, 2016
Read "Brian Bromberg" CD/LP/Track Review Brian Bromberg
by Dave Wayne
Published: May 28, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!