CD review: Keith Jarrett – Munich 2016 (2019): Video, CD cover

- in New CD's Review, VIDEOS

Virtuoso pianist Keith Jarrett will have Munich 2016, a recording of his concert at Munich’s Philharmonic Hall on 16 July 2016, released by ECM on 1 November.

The album captures the last night of Jarrett’s tour of that year, and a concert in which he was at the peak of his improvisational powers. He plays music of polyrhythmic and harmonic complexity, intermingled with blues and folksong lyricism in what was recognised as one of his finest performances. The attentive and admiring German audience hangs on every note in a show that featured an encore of ‘It’s A Lonesome Old Town.’

Munich 2016, recorded in the home town of his label ECM, is the latest release in a line of solo concert recordings that have illustrated Jarrett’s career. These have included 1973’s Solo Concerts Bremen-Lausanne as well as later high points such as The Köln Concert, Sun Bear Concerts, Concerts (Bregenz München), Paris Concert, Vienna Concert, La Scala, Radiance, The Carnegie Hall Concert, Testament, Creation, A Multitude of Angels and La Fenice. The Sun Bear album is due for reissue on vinyl in the coming months.

That live album history also illustrates the way in which Jarrett’s concerts have themselves been transformed. His early shows featured unbroken improvisations that would span an entire set, but Munich 2016 highlights a modern-day style of tightly focused and spontaneous performances. While there are far more solo improvisers working in this musical milieu than was once the case, Jarrett’s dexterity for developing motifs and melodies and uncovering forms in real time is still unparalleled.

As the Polar Music Prize committee commented when honouring Jarrett with its 2003 award, “[his] musical artistry is characterised by his ability to effortlessly cross boundaries in the world of music. He has expressed himself over the years in the context of both jazz and compositions for various chamber music ensembles and orchestra.

“Through a series of brilliant solo performances and recordings that demonstrate his utterly spontaneous creativity, Keith Jarrett has simultaneously lifted piano improvisation as an art form to new, unimaginable heights.”

A solo concert from Keith Jarrett – recorded at Munich’s Philharmonic Hall on July 16, 2016, on the last night of a tour – finds the great improvising pianist at a peak of invention. Creating a spontaneous suite of forms in the moment with the intuitive assurance of a master builder – interspersing touches of the blues and folksong lyricism between pieces of polyrhythmic and harmonic complexity – he delivers one of his very finest performances. An attentive and appreciative audience hangs on every note, every nuance, and is rewarded with some tender encores including a magical version of “It’s A Lonesome Old Town”…

Jarrett’s solo concert recordings form a unique and continually evolving body of work inside his discography. To trace the line that leads from 1973’s Solo Concerts Bremen-Lausanne is to follow an extraordinary musical journey. High points along the road have included The Köln Concert, Sun Bear Concerts – due for vinyl reissue in the coming months -, Concerts (Bregenz München), Paris Concert, Vienna Concert, La Scala, Radiance, The Carnegie Hall Concert, Testament, Creation, A Multitude of Angels, and La Fenice. Munich 2016 brings the story up to date, a document of Jarrett’s most recent European performance, held in ECM’s hometown. The particular intensity of the Munich performance singles it out as one of the truly outstanding concerts. So, too, the flow of its component parts.

The shape of the individual concerts has been transformed, the large arc of the early concerts, with unbroken improvisations spanning an entire set, giving way to performances made up of discrete, tightly focused spontaneous compositions. Since Jarrett embarked on this quest the number of solo improvisers has multiplied exponentially yet his sense for developing motifs and melodies and uncovering forms in real time remains unparalleled. There is, still, nothing else like a Keith Jarrett solo concert. “Through a series of brilliant solo performances and recordings that demonstrate his utterly spontaneous creativity,” the Polar Music Prize committee noted a few years ago, “Keith Jarrett has simultaneously lifted piano improvisation as an art form to new, unimaginable heights.”

1. Part I (Live) (13:30)
2. Part II (Live) (6:53)
3. Part III (Live) (5:56)
4. Part IV (Live) (3:51)
5. Part V (Live) (3:59)
6. Part VI (Live) (5:49)
7. Part VII (Live) (1:50)
8. Part VIII (Live) (7:48)
9. Part IX (Live) (3:03)
10. Part X (Live) (7:16)
11. Part XI (Live) (8:33)
12. Part XII (Live) (2:50)
13. Answer Me My Love (Live) (4:12)
14. It’s A Lonesome Old Town (Live) (5:03)
15. Somewhere Over The Rainbow (Live) (5:55)

Keith Jarrett: piano

Image result for Keith Jarrett - Munich 2016

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