Gift that keeps giv­ing

Al­bum of the Week

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - MUSIC REVIEWS - CORMAC LARKIN


A sus­pi­cion of hubris hangs over the re­lease of any new ‘dis­cov­ery’ from the ar­chives of pi­anist Keith Jar­rett. No other mod­ern jazz mu­si­cian has been as minutely doc­u­mented as the vir­tu­oso im­pro­viser from Al­len­town, Penn­syl­va­nia, and the Jar­rett oeu­vre, strictly cu­rated by the pi­anist him­self, now runs to sev­eral groan­ing shelves in the av­er­age com­pletist’s col­lec­tion – I should know. In re­cent years, he has taken to record­ing ev­ery sin­gle pub­lic per­for­mance, so there’s is a vast and grow­ing mu­sic horde as yet un­re­leased.

But dam­mit if he isn’t worth the shelf space, and here’s another buried trea­sure to prove it. It’s easy to for­get, now that his in­flu­ence has so thor­oughly per­me­ated con­tem­po­rary pi­ano play­ing, just how fresh and orig­i­nal Jar­rett sounded when he emerged in the late 1960s, and that sound – joy­ous and lib­er­ated, ten­der and fierce – is present from the open­ing notes of this mar­velous live record­ing, made by Ger­man ra­dio sta­tion NDR in June 1972. Just seven months pre­vi­ously, Jar­rett had made his de­but for Man­fred Eicher’s new ECM la­bel – a re­la­tion­ship that en­dures to this day – with the era defin­ing solo record­ing Fac­ing


Ham­burg ’72 opens in a sim­i­lar vein – just Jar­rett and a pi­ano, fugue-like and con­tem­pla­tive. But when bassist Charlie Haden and drum­mer Paul Mo­tian en­ter, Jar­rett’s del­i­cate in­tro­spec­tion opens wide and out pours some of the most ex­hil­a­rat­ing pi­ano trio mu­sic ever com­mit­ted to tape.

Jar­rett’s re­la­tion­ship with th­ese two masters of their re­spec­tive in­stru­ments was to be pro­found and long-last­ing (end­ing fi­nally with Haden’s pass­ing ear­lier this year), but Ham­burg ‘72 is a doc­u­ment from the spring­time of their ro­mance, three young mu­si­cians (Jar­rett was just 27, Mo­tian the el­dest at 42) in love with the pos­si­bil­i­ties of mu­sic, fling­ing them­selves into the un­known, reach­ing for new sounds and new hori­zons.

If you are com­ing fresh to, yes, the great­est pi­ano player of the mod­ern era, Ham­burg ‘72 is as good a place to start as any. If, on the other hand, you al­ready own ev­ery other Jar­rett record, no fur­ther in­duce­ment will be nec­es­sary.

But it might be time to build another shelf. prop­er­mu­

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