Keith Jarrett: The Carnegie Hall Concert

Artist: Keith Jarrett

 Produced by: ECM Records

Reviewed by Melissa Minners

            Keith Jarrett is an American pianist and composer whose specialty is improvisational composition.  Coming from a family of talented musicians – his brothers are also involved in the music industry – Jarrett has been a successful in both jazz and classical music since the 70’s.  He has appeared with such jazz greats as Miles Davis and Chick Corea, has been a member of the Charles Lloyd Quartet, and enjoyed much success as a solo artist.  Recently, I was offered the opportunity to review a selection of songs from Keith Jarrett: The Carnegie Hall Concert.  The 6-track CD consists of songs specially selected for the radio.  As a lover of jazz and classical music, I was happy to receive the CD, but having never experienced improvised composing, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.

            The first track, Part VII, threw me a bit.  Here was a track that at times had me bopping my head to the jazz rhythm and other times frowning at the stop and go quality of the composition.  It almost sounded like the composer was not quite sure where to go with the music at certain points during the composition.  Sometimes you wonder if this is an actual famous pianist you’re listening to and not an amateur playing with the keys.  In addition, Jarrett’s penchant for vocalization via grunts and tuneless singing can often be distracting.  You’ll sit there scratching your head and wondering if you heard a cat crying or a kazoo in the background, finally realizing that this is just Jarrett expressing himself. 

            And yet, the rest of the CD, minus Jarrett’s intonations, is completely different from the first track.  My favorite piece, True Blues, is a bluesy jazz piece that is absolutely beautiful in composition.  It’s smooth and clear, not choppy like Part VII and there is no amateurish quality to it at all.  In fact, there is no doubt from the other tracks that Keith Jarrett is a talented pianist and composer.  I find it utterly amazing that such beautiful pieces can be created “off-the-cuff”.  What takes some composers weeks, months, and sometimes years to complete, Keith Jarrett is able to create without a thought as to where his composition will go prior to his fingers hitting the piano keys.  Truly incredible!

            The fact that Jarrett is able to come up with such beautiful compositions via last minute improvisation is enough to make you overlook the strange and often times eccentric behavior of the composer.  It’s enough to make you ignore the vocal intonations and focus on the incredibly amazing art pouring forth from your stereo speakers.  If you are a fan of classical music, jazz or blues…if you have never before enjoyed the art of improvisational composition before…Keith Jarrett: The Carnegie Hall Concert is right for you!


For feedback, visit our
message board or e-mail the author at talonkarrde@g-pop.net.