Keith Jarrett: Encore (Tokyo)


Encore: Tokyo Concert


Keith Jarrett (piano)


Sun Bear Concerts (ECM 1100)

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Keith Jarrett (piano).

Composed by Keith Jarrett


Recorded: Tokyo, November 14, 1976


Rating: 96/100 (learn more)

For much of the 1970s, Keith Jarrett was releasing so much music that few fans or critics could keep up with him. He was recording with his American quartet and his European quartet, doing solo piano projects, composing quasi-classical works, and pursuing other miscellaneous projects. If you saw him in concert at that time, you might hear Jarrett playing soprano sax or percussion, as well as piano. Just a few weeks before this concert in Tokyo, he recorded an album of organ music, followed a few days later by the quartet session featured on the Impulse release Byablue.

Keith Jarrett

In the midst of this flurry of activity, Jarrett tossed off the Sun Bear Concerts as though they were just a passing whim, and the high price tag attached when this music was released (originally in a box set of 10 LPs) limited sales to a select few. But this project (now available on six CDs)—comprising the music performed at five solo piano concerts in Japan—must be considered one of the high points of Jarrett's career. This encore from his Tokyo concert finds the pianist at top form, constructing a taut, lyrical improvisation in E minor over a filigree of mostly sixteenth notes in the left hand. At first, one expects Jarrett to move into a repeating pattern or vamp, as he often does on these solo outings, yet instead he pushes the harmonies in surprising ways. The effect is much like hearing a classical composer, working within a late Romantic or early Impressionist tonal palette, in the midst of creating a new piece. Only a few years earlier, music of this sort would hardly have been considered jazz, yet Jarrett, through his visionary conception of improvisation, was pushing the art form on to new terrain.

Reviewer: Ted Gioia

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