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Jarrett, Keith: Budapest Concert

Acclaimed US Jazz and Classical pianist Keith Jarrett was in the news in 2020 mainly for the revelation that 2 strokes suffered in 2018 meant it unlikely he would be able to perform again. This new release, recorded at Budapest’s Bela Bartok Concert Hall in 2016, shows the talents of the man that the world will miss in future years. It is the latest in a long series (going back to the early seventies) of solo, largely improvised concerts, with the main course here being a 12 part suite, with each part clearly separated from each other by a lengthy pause (little clapping though, something Jarrett apparently disapproves of during the course of his concerts).

The fourteen minutes of “Part I” show Jarrett in exploratory mode, with a sometimes jarring and avant garde feel as he explores various note combinations and motifs. Several styles are hinted at but none dominate. There is a sense of urgency and unease, and it is only in the latter half of the piece that distinct melodies start to be teased out.

Following this are several more languid and melodic parts that may serve to draw in fans of more conventional melodies. After the tender, sparse and melancholic “Part II”, “Part III” is more chord-based and shows Jarrett using his voice as another instrument, another common trait. By the more rhythmical “Part IV” Jarrett seems to be hitting his stride, and the positively upbeat “Part VI” has clear references to ragtime and bop, whilst having the classical flourishes an exemplary musician such as Jarrett is able to give them.

The remainder of the suite ebbs and flows, with Jarrett cramming in the notes in the frenetic two and a half minute “Part XI”, whilst the subsequent “Part X” shows his skill at building up momentum and atmosphere, one hand playing the bass notes with languorous metronomic precision whilst the other plays a dextrous, wide ranging number of counterpoint melodies. The suite ends with the apply titled “Part XII �" Blues”, which is much more jaunty and relaxed than what has gone before, as evinced by some rare audience applause and calls during the piece.

Rounding out the set are a couple of covers of old standards, but these fit easily in with the general mood and carry Jarrett’s stamp on them, with plenty of room for innovation around the core melodies. Overall, whilst for some parts of the concert I found it easier to appreciate the technical quality of the playing than really enjoy listening to the music itself, there are many sections where Jarrett reaches out and draws you in, particularly where he stumbles upon a fantastic melody or strong groove and builds around it. Lovers of good quality jazz and classical music, particularly those who enjoy listening to creative musicians who thrive on experimentation and improvisation, will find plenty to dig in to here.

1.Part I
2.Part II
3.Part III
4.Part IV
5.Part V
6.Part VI
7.Part VII
8.Part VIII
9.Part IX
10.Part X
11.Part XI
12.Part XII - Blues
13.It’s A Lonesome Old Town
14.Answer Me

Added: January 10th 2021
Reviewer: Tom De Val
Related Link: Artist Facebook Page
Hits: 370
Language: english

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