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Sunday, May 31, 2015

CD Review: Keith Jarrett – Original Album Series (5 CD set)

Keith Jarrett (piano, voice and multiple instruments); Charlie Haden (bass); Paul Motian (Drums)
(Review by Hugh).
A release from Rhino/Warner Music Group comprising 5 CDs representing the first five recordings Keith Jarrett made for Atlantic (and its subsidiary Vortex) as a leader.  Jarrett, pianist in Charles Lloyd's quartet from 1966 to 1970, also played in Miles Davis' band of the early ‘70s.
Sleeves bearing the artwork of the original LPs are contained in a slim box with each CD (as would be expected) lasting in the region of forty minutes (no need to turn them over though!).
The albums are as follows:
Life Between the Exit Signs (1967)
Restoration Ruin (1968)
Somewhere Before (1968)
The Mourning of a Star (1971)
El Juicio (The Judgement) (1975)
Four of the albums feature Jarrett (mainly on piano, but also with a variety of other instruments) with long time collaborators Charlie Haden (bass) and Paul Motian (drums).  The exception is Restoration Ruin, which features Keith Jarrett on multiple instruments (including harmonica, recorder, soprano sax, guitar, bass guitar, bongos, drums, tambourine, piano, organ and sistra) together with a string quartet.  He also sings, with a somewhat “Dylanesque” quality in places.
Somewhere Before was recorded live at Shelly's Manne-Hole in Hollywood and marks Jarrett's first West Coast recording.  The other LPs were laid down in the studio.
The delivery is vintage (by definition really) Jarrett ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous and through to the frankly raucous.  Each CD has between seven and eleven tracks, some of them quite short and lasting only just over a minute.
When Lance offered me this set to review it was in the knowledge that I do like Keith Jarrett.  He did however assure me that he was not expecting an in depth analysis of each individual track (45 in all)!  I have listened through to each CD and (appropriately) am listening to El Juicio (The Judgement) as I type.  I must admit I find the trio's more melodic tracks the most listenable.  Some of the freer, improvisational, material has me twitching to use the fast forward facility on the remote, but will no doubt delight others.
This set will be an essential buy for the real Jarrett devotee, who may have all the original vinyl albums anyway, and is a snip at just £12.99 through a well-known on-line supplier.  Whether it will appeal to the more general jazz enthusiast remains to be seen.

Hugh.

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