Online since August 2002

Seat of the pants composition

Reviewed October 2005

By Keith Jarrett

ECM: 2005

To hear sound clips or learn more about this release, Turbula recommends viewing its Amazon.com entry.

Keith Jarrett's piano artistry covers a broad spectrum of sound, from his work with Miles Davis during the trumpeter's late fusion period to his own writing for string quartet, string ensembles and brass quintet. But his two greatest claims to fame have been, first, his work with the "standards trio," with bassist Gary Peacock and drummer Jack DeJohnette, a deep and personal journey into – for the most part – the Great American Songbook; and, second, his solo concert performances.

Fans of his solo work – just Jarrett and his piano – often cite his "The Köln Concert" disc as his greatest achievement in this arena.

"Radiance" may be even better.

Recorded in concert in 2002 in Japan, the first thirteen tracks – ninety-five minutes – are from a show (in its entirety) in Osaka. Tracks fourteen through seventeen are culled from the Tokyo concert a couple of night later. The sound is intensely personal; this is Jarrett composing spontaneously, in communion with those eight-eight keys, creating sounds that range from the classically beautful – brimming with a pastoral loveliness – to the angular and abtsract, and to the ominously searching. Searching always, it seems, sometimes finding resolution, sometimes ... sometimes not. Running musical ideas along a straight line of time, with no preconceived plan; and in spite of the improvisational nature of the show, the sound – the Osaka night in particular – somehow shapes itself into a structured whole, with each piece building on the previous one, as Jarrett crafts a seat-of-the-pants "sponanteous suite." This might be unintentional, but for someone with Jarrett's intense devotion to artistry, the structure that forms up over an hour and a half performance might be inevitable.

Don't expect background music, gorgeous as this is at times. Full appreciation of this sound requires undivided attention, the same as if you were in the concert house, watching the live show. Jarrett is a man possessed, with a complex and always compelling musical mind that he lays bare on "Radiance."

Review by Dan McClenaghan. Dan is a writer living in Oceanside, Calif. Read his biography on his AllAboutJazz.com page.

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