The journey continues ...after a considerable hiatus.
“Radiance” is the first album of solo piano improvisations from Keith Jarrett in a decade. The last such was “La Scala”, recorded 1995, released 1997. (In between, in 1999, Jarrett issued the home recording “The Melody At Night With You”, a solo album of standards and folk songs).
Four years ago, Jarrett told interviewers it was unlikely he would return to solo piano performance. Having been sidelined for several seasons by illness, he had attempted two solo concerts in Japan in the autumn of 1999 but, dissatisfied with the results, had concluded he still needed the safety net of his trio to play live. In 2002, however, he changed his mind and, as it turned out, changed the solo format as well.
Recorded live in Osaka and Tokyo in October 2002, Jarrett forgoes the large arc of musical development, the continuous improvisations common to the majority of his earlier solo concerts. Instead, the material from Osaka develops into a kind of improvised suite comprised of “discrete pieces drawn from each previous piece.” As he explains it, “the second piece would not have existed without the first, et cetera.” The ‘found structure’ of the Osaka concert – in part determined by the extreme contrasting of melodic and textural material as well as differentiated sound densities – is reproduced here in its entirety, in pieces 1 through 13, and is augmented by excerpts from a Tokyo concert given three days later. “The Tokyo pieces were selected,” Jarrett writes, “to keep the flow and spirit” throughout this double CD, effectively fulfilling the structural implications of the Osaka material.
Overall, however, “Radiance” bears out an oft-quoted early statement of Keith Jarrett’s: “The best improvisations I know of are always made when you have no ideas. If an improviser can get ideas out of his head that are possessing his ability to flow, then he can keep playing and keep making music. I don’t even have a seed when I start. The solo concert is like another world that has its own rules that I didn’t make up.”
In autumn 2005, ECM will issue a DVD video of the complete Tokyo concert, which was Jarrett’s 150th Japanese performance.
Keith Jarrett, born in Allentown, Pennsylvania in 1945, turns 60 on May 8th. He has recorded for ECM since 1971. Other landmark live recordings in his solo piano series include “Solo Concerts, Bremen/Lausanne” (recorded 1973), “The Köln Concert”(1975), “Sun Bear Concerts” (1976), “Dark Intervals” (1987), “Paris Concert” (1988), “Vienna Concert” (1991)” and “La Scala” (1995).