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Almost exactly forty years ago, Keith Jarrett’s association with ECM began with the recording of a solo piano album. “Facing You” (1971) was soon followed by the initiation of the solo concerts, evenings of piano improvisations, documented now on a range of influential live recordings which include “Solo Concerts (Bremen-Lausanne)”, “The Köln Concert”, “Sun Bear Concerts”, “Concerts (Bregenz-München”), “Dark Intervals”, “Paris Concert”, “Vienna Concert”, “La Scala”, “Radiance”, “The Carnegie Hall Concert” and “Testament, Paris-London”. The span of music addressed on these albums is vast, but they share a common genesis in improvisation, as well as a most remarkable artistic consistency. If it is no longer uncommon for improvisers to fill an evening’s music-making alone, Jarrett remains unrivalled in his capacity to uncover new forms in the moment: the concept of ‘spontaneous composition’ is more than an ideal here.

Latest in the series of ongoing solo concert recordings is “Rio”. Jarrett had played in Brazil only once before, more than two decades ago, and said, before his South American concerts, that he felt he had “unfinished business” there: “I really had no idea what I meant, but this concert is it. Everything I played in Rio was improvised, and there is no way that I could have gotten to this particular musical place a second time, or in a different country: not even in a different hall or with a different audience, or on a different night.”

“Rio” documents the entire spontaneous concert at the Theatro Municipal, Rio de Janeiro on April 9, 2011. The music that emerges, on this instance, has an intensely lyrical core, reflected in the fifteen short pieces that make up the concert. There is an intimate quality, too, which draws the listener toward it, from the first moments. Jarrett feels the concert was one of his best: “jazzy, serious, sweet, playful, warm, economical, energetic, passionate, and connected with the Brazilian culture in a unique way. The sound in the hall was excellent and so was the enthusiastic audience.”

The Rio concert was the second show in a short South American tour which also included performances in Sao Paolo and Buenos Aires. Jarrett has always rationed his solo appearances; there have been just seven so far in 2011.

Further Keith Jarrett releases are in preparation from ECM.

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