“Tokyo Solo” begins where “Radiance” left off.
The final four tracks of Keith Jarrett’s best-selling 2005 CD release featured music from the pianist’s 150th concert in Japan, a solo performance at Tokyo’s Metropolitan Festival Hall.
This DVD, directed by Kanama Kawachi, and licensed from Video Arts Japan, reprises the complete solo concert, and includes more than an hour of previously unreleased Jarrett improvisation. It is the first film of a Jarrett concert to be made available by ECM (two previous solo videos, from the 1980s, were distributed elsewhere).
Jarrett has been a regular visitor to Japan since 1974 when his performances with the ‘American Quartet’ (with Dewey Redman, Charlie Haden and Paul Motian) as well as a solo concert in Tokyo established him as a major figure there instantly. In 1976, his entire Japanese tour was recorded as “The Sun Bear Concerts”, an enduring, powerful statement, unique in the annals of improvisation. “Personal Mountains”, with his ‘European Quartet’ (with Jan Garbarek, Palle Danielsson and Jon Christensen) at a creative peak, was recorded live in Tokyo in 1979. In 1981, Jarrett drew an audience of 24,000 to the Budokan stadium for a solo concert. Throughout the 1980s and into the 1990s, he performed in Japan in a wide variety of contexts – as solo player, as leader of the trio with Gary Peacock and Jack DeJohnette, as interpreter of classical music and contemporary composition. Albums continued to be made there – from Jarrett’s harpsichord account of Bach’s Goldberg Variations (recorded in Nagano), to the standards of “Tokyo ’96” to the intense free group playing of “Always Let Me Go” in 2001.
There is no question that the focused attention of an extremely loyal Japanese public has often inspired Keith Jarrett to exceptional performances. The pianist addressed this in a programme note for the 2002 tour. “The Japanese public has always welcomed my music with an open mind and heart. It’s an honour to feel this respect for my work. I haven’t played 150 concerts in any geographic location as contained as Japan, yet I always feel as though I have a big, open workshop for the music here. Thank you for listening.”
As with “Radiance”, Jarrett’s “Tokyo Solo” is built up from discrete ‘episodes’ or chapters, self-contained pieces of music that add up to a larger shape The moods roved through are many. Yet Jarrett’s improvisational instincts always guide him to the creation of form, of instant composing in a real sense. Kanama Kawachi captures the remarkable process in this film from Tokyo’s striking Metropolitan Festival Hall (built in 1961 to the specifications of Kunio Mayekawa, father of modern Japanese architecture).
At the concert’s end, Jarrett plays three ‘standards’ – his arrangement of the Irish traditional tune “Danny Boy”, Jerome Kern’s “Old Man River”, and “Don’t Worry ‘Bout Me”, the latter associated with two very different jazz greats, Art Tatum and Count Basie.
The solo piano concert format established by Keith Jarrett in the 1970s has led to some of his best loved recordings, including 1975’s “The Köln Concert”, which has sold more than three million copies, as well as “Solo Concerts: Bremen/Lausanne”, “Paris Concert”, “Vienna Concert”, “La Scala” and more. The next ECM CD release by Keith Jarrett, as yet untitled, will feature the recording of his New York Carnegie Hall solo concert of September 2005. Release is scheduled for autumn 2006.