Keith Jarrett – Munich 2016
(ECM. 2667/68 779 3748. CD Review by Patrick Hadfield)
Every time I see there’s a new release of solo piano by Keith Jarrett, I find myself asking the same question: do I really need another Keith Jarrett record? But after hearing the album, the answer is invariably the same: a resounding YES!
Munich 2016 is no different. Spread over two CDs are over 90 minutes of intense, engaging improvised music. Recorded at a concert in Munich’s Philharmonie in July 2016, the first 12 pieces, named Part I-XII, are wholly improvised; the last three, presumably the encores, are based on standards.
The music is impressive. Jarrett dives straight in with the longest, most intense of his improvisations on the record, Part I. It has depth and emotional heft, but is perhaps the least accessible track on the album. With a lot of his playing in the lower register, it has quite a dark feel about it; it is also the most abstract piece on the record.
Elsewhere, Jarrett had a lighter, even more optimistic touch. Part III is a lovely, gentle meditative piece that sounds like a spiritual as if written by Bach. (Jarrett has recorded Bach’s Well Tempered Clavier and Goldberg Variations in the past, as well as accompanying recordings of Bach’s violin sonatas.) The blues and spirituals feature elsewhere on the record. Part IV has a raucous, exultant feel to it – Jarrett’s famous (or infamous) vocalisations sound like a joyous response to what he is playing. Part IX is another blues, at times touching on a lively bit of boogie-woogie piano.
In other places, such as Parts V, VIII and X, the music is reflective, light and searching, with lots of space within it – almost romantic. Parts VII and XII are almost the opposite, jagged and angular pieces full to the brim.
The three standards definitely reflect Jarrett’s romantic side. Answer Me, My Love is full of yearning and uncertainty; it positively aches. It’s A Lonesome Old Town is slow and evocative, full of sortie and regret. Somewhere Over The Rainbow also featured on the recent release of the concert series A Multitude Of Angels, recorded 20 years earlier. The version on Munich 2016 is a gorgeous tune with which to close the set. It too is slow, but seems to sum up much that has gone before it.
Patrick Hadfield lives in Edinburgh, occasionally takes photographs, and sometimes blogs at On the Beat. Twitter: @patrickhadfield.