Tuesday, 2 November 2010

The Carnegie Hall Concert

by Keith Jarrett

I bought this two-CD set on sale the other week. Just another Keith Jarrett album for my collection, you understand. You don’t see a lot of Keith Jarretts on sale. True, some of his albums are disappointing. So what? Being as prolific as Jarrett is, the man is surely allowed to record a weak album now and then, and who can blame him? I certainly did not expect another Köln Concert, and The Köln Concert it ain’t. It is something completely different, and yet unmistakeably Jarrett. I don’t think it would be a blasphemy to say that The Carnegie Hall Concert is almost as great as that 30-year older masterpiece. Why “almost”? Let me explain.

I understand that ECM released the concert exactly as it was played in Carnegie Hall on 26 September 2005, taking care to present the first half of the concert on disc one and what followed after the interval, that is, the second half plus five encores, on disc two. (That explains why the second CD is more than twice as long as the first one.) Which is fair enough, but sometimes less is more; of all record companies, ECM should know that better. On this occasion, Part I, Part IV and Part VI are amorphous, tuneless free-jazz exercises which I can happily live without. On the other hand, my favourite tracks are Part III, Part VII and Paint My Heart Red. You see, I am cherry-picking here. I wouldn’t dare to do that with The Köln Concert, which is pretty much indivisible, like an atom.

Carnegie Hall Concert

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