This is Keith Jarrett's most accomplished collection of classical compositions yet, seated squarely in the American East Coast neo-classical tradition of Samuel Barber, David Diamond, Irving Fine, etc. Jarrett's writing for strings is masterful here; the lines move and interweave instead of being shoveled on as in some pieces of the '70s, and the compositions have shape and direction. Most of all, they share a common feeling of reflection and an unabashed willingness to let the instrumental soloists sing.
If you have any doubt that the fipple flute is an acceptable substitute for the specified transverse one in these works, this recording could allay it. What is lost is the warm, intimate, breathy, pitch-bending sound of the minimally-keyed wooden instrument, but what is gained is the luculent clarity and (in Petri's hands) spot-on accuracy of the recorder. Instruments at period pitch (which for her own good reasons Petri does not use) would restore some of the warmth, but rarely can you have everything—and here you have so much to be grateful for.
Two of vibraphonist Gary Burton's albums from 1969-1970 are reissued in full on this single CD. Burton teams up with pianist Keith Jarrett for five numbers (including four of Jarrett's originals) in 1970, using a quintet that also features guitarist Sam Brown, bassist Steve Swallow, and drummer Bill Goodwin. The other session has more of an avant-country flavor, with Burton, Swallow, and Goodwin joined by guitarist Jerry Hahn and violinist Richard Greene; Michael Gibbs and Swallow contributed most of the obscurities. Burton was at his most explorative during this period, which is why he can be considered one of the pioneers of fusion (although his music never really fit into a tight category). This is excellent music that mostly still sounds fresh.
Keith Jarrett weaves a special kind of spell in his improvisations, one somehow connected to a greater humanity, for though the music and playing are ethereal, one is never mistaken that they are anything but earthly. Jarrett is not a mere vessel, but a creative force of flesh and bone whose fingers speak in ways we can only understand without words. This live recording from Tokyo’s Suntory Hall expands that flesh, and feels so intimate it might as well have grown away from others in the cave of his private studio.
Keith Jarrett's first solo acoustic piano recording remains one of his best. At this point in late 1971, Jarrett had just started improvising completely freely. That does not mean that his solos were necessarily atonal but simply that they were not planned in any way in advance. The music on these eight improvisations are often quite melodic, very rhythmic and bluesy. This set makes for a perfect introduction to Jarrett's many solo piano recordings.
Jarrett's 1970s albums may have confused some purists but they should be a goldmine for contemporary fans of all stripes who like improvised music. El Juicio is an excellent early Jarrett album and finds him in typically eclectic form with his classic American quartet. I nominate the opener, "Gypsy Moth," as the best piece on the record. Sounding a little like a more confident version of "Lisbon Stomp," from Jarrett's 1967 debut album Life Between the Exit Signs, Jarrett first whips up a rollicking theme on the piano and then switches to soprano sax towards the end, the rhythm section swinging hard throughout.