Keith Jarrett –Rio (ECM/One-HiFi)

Double CD “Rio” is a complete record of concert that Keith played in Theatro Municipal, Rio de Janeiro, on the 9th of April last year

Publishing of this record marks four decades from Keith’s album “Facing You”, when he started his long and succesful collaboration with the ECM. “Rio” is Jarret`s 12th live solo album, with 15 parts marked only with numbers, and 90 minutes altogether.

At least three surprises are related to this album. The first one you will notice as soon as you hold the CD in your hands, with a cover where the shades of orange, yellow and red are blending in one another – which is a very refreshing new thing for ECM and the painter from Switzerland who often works for the publishing house, Mayo Bucher.

The second surprise is incredibly short period of time that they used for recording and publishing the album – only a couple of months. And the third surprise would be that in the list of the cities where Keith performed and recorded his CD`s, for the first time he had a city from the south of the earth`s hemisphere, outside of SAD-Europe-Japan (Bremen/Lausanne, Köln, Bregenz/München, Paris, Vienna, Milan, New York, Paris/London and 3 records from Japan), but also a potential big market.

“.Everything I played in Rio was improvised, and there is no way that I could have gotten to this particular musical place a second time, or in a different country: not even in a different hall or with a different audience, or on a different night”, says Jarrett. As one of the performers that brought the improvisation to its perfection and promoted it beautifully far away from the orthodox jazz core, he didn`t have to tell us that, because it would be unusual for him to change his path so radically.

But, with listening to the album I can hardly believe that a few critical parts (3, 5, 8, 14), with slightly more powerful melodies and harmonic structure (almost the level of a pop song, for which is the best test if you can sing them after only a few times of listening to it), he invented exactly that night. That`s why I think that this statement would be redundant – I do not care if the musician practiced his “spontaneous” improvisation at home, but if his music is beautiful or not. Let`s leave the fairy tales of spontaneous to the naive ones!

The CD cover is in accordance with the music. While the last album `Testament` was one of the darkest, the most closed, presenting the life drama that the pianist went through (a divorce), “Rio” is one of his brightest and the smoothest, with the different tastes of jazz, contemporary classical music and pop philosophy.



With “monk`s” angular melodic/harmonic access and “ceciltaylor`s” atonal preludiums, “Part 1” of nine minutes was the most difficult one, like a test for the audience – if you stay alive after the first level, you will easily get to the 15th one. “Part 10” has the similar free form, but this one, being between “Part 9”, that could be an intro to some TV show, and a cheap boogie-blues “Part 11”, stands between them as a refreshing excess.

His inspirations by impresionism and contemprary classical music are hearable in parts 2, 4, 12 and 13. By the way “Part 4” reminds of a jazz standard “As Time Goes By”, and the beginning of “Part 13” on Rodrigo`s “Concierto de Aranjuez” – it is not the same, and it does not bother that it has these associations. The most pleasure hearing I had listening to the “Part 7” and the “Part 15”, proving that Jarrett is the strongest when he plays romantic ballads, with beautiful harmonies, brilliantly controlling the dynamics of each sound.

Unfortunately, that sound is not that controlled on the 30% of the album. Sometimes you actually have a feeling that he`s playing with hammers and not his fingers, or that some young pianist beginner is playing and not Keith Jarrett. But as we know that also happened at the famous concert in Köln, but jazz piano music continued to grow after mid 70`s – thanks to Mehldau`s and other pianists contemporary romantism. It`s interesting that that hammer moment happens only in the “pop” part of the album (in the parts 2, 4, 14). Its use in the “Part 6” – that has a sensibility of a prison blues songs or native mantra`s – has it`s own charm, like a clock ticking on fate.

With no doubt “Rio” will repeat the success of Jarretts previous solo albums. His followers are extremely faithful, and the number is growing with the time. When it comes to me, using the advances of the digital time, I can easily choose round 50 minutes that I like, not caring about what I don`t like. I wonder if the artist would be pleased to know that?



Keith Jarrett – piano


Translation: Sofija Knežević

Tags: , , , ,

Leave a Reply