Support All About Jazz

All About Jazz needs your help and we have a deal. Pay $20 and we'll hide those six pesky Google ads that appear on every page, plus this box and the slideout box on the right for a full year! You'll also fund website expansion.


I want to help
464

Keith Jarrett: The Melody At Night, With You

David Adler By

Sign in to view read count Views
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


Live Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Genius Guide to Jazz
Extended Analysis
Read more articles
Creation
Creation
ECM Records
2015
buy
Hamburg '72
Hamburg '72
ECM Records
2014
buy
Last Dance
Last Dance
ECM Records
2014
buy
Ritual
Ritual
ECM Records
2014
buy
Keith Jarrett: Arbour Zena
Keith Jarrett: Arbour...
ECM Records
2014
buy
[no cover]
Concerts (Bregenz...
RCA
2013
buy
Pat Metheny Pat Metheny
guitar
Chick Corea Chick Corea
piano
Brad Mehldau Brad Mehldau
piano
Charlie Haden Charlie Haden
bass, acoustic
McCoy Tyner McCoy Tyner
piano
Bobby McFerrin Bobby McFerrin
vocalist
Jan Garbarek Jan Garbarek
sax, tenor

More Articles

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.