Keith Jarrett
Concerts: Bregenz/München

Keith Jarrett
No End
2-CDs **1/2
Solo live piano recordings in the first of these two releases, from May and June 1981 recorded only five days apart. And, more unusually, in the second release here, a solo guitar/piano/drums/vocals recording of Jarrett’s, from 1986.

The Bregenz/München set, ten tracks in all spread over three discs, hasn’t been on CD before in a complete edition. But No End, 20 tracks equally divided up on two discs recorded in Jarrett’s home studio in New Jersey, hasn’t hitherto seen the light of day at all. So from the curiosity point of view it’s the flame to draw the flapping wings of every Jarrett moth out there.

There’s been a lot of Jarrett released in 2013 so far notably the Standards trio’s Lucerne concert Somewhere [], plus the reissue of Hymns/Spheres in its complete form for the first time [], as well as Jarrett’s album of Bach sonatas with violinist Michelle Makarski.

Jarrett says in the notes: “I grew up with the piano. I learned its language while I learned to speak.” The effects of its manifestation through the filter of improvisation is beyond communication, a process whereby Jarrett’s extraordinary facility is only the means to an end. Peter Rüedi in an essay included in this CD issue says convincingly: “Jarrett’s art is an art of the moment.” He also adds later: “Keith Jarrett’s solo concerts are all acts of renunciation and surrender.” That ‘surrendering’ reaching a blissed-out peak well before the end of ‘Part 1’ of the Munich concert. There’s also an embarrassing intimacy along the way, it’s as if as a listener you’re intruding.

Bregenz/München has massive impact (the Munich concert easily the more engrossing and emotion-laden of the two), and there’s a subjective beauty to it in incalculable ways. The third disc begins more accommodatingly, again that gospellised inflection that got channelled in a different way by the Belonging band, yet there are passages well into ‘Part III’ that will stop you dead in your tracks, the improvisation drawing out hidden melodies Jarrett might not even know are there until he plays them. Listen out for fugue-like flights of fantasy as well, but it’s the free form experimentalism of ‘Part IV’ where Jarrett is at his most boldly modernistic that the Munich audience responds to most instinctively and naturally. There’s a feeling that Jarrett and the audience are together here.

“How could I have left it in a drawer all these years?” Jarrett asks rhetorically in the notes to No End where he’s encountered as if in an air pocket in these tapes recorded in a home studio containing, ready for his use here, a drum set, tablas and percussion instruments “of all kinds”, he explains, plus a red Gibson solid-body electric guitar, his American Steinway, and a Fender bass, recorded and overdubbed using a pair of Tandberg cassette recorders in the control room working alone. It’s a let-'em-roll situation dominated by relaxed, meandering guitar and laidback percussion. Two CDs here might be pushing it a bit. “Dedicated to my kids, to my wives, to my mother, to my brothers, to my friends and to my enemies,” says Jarrett, signing off. Stephen Graham
Released on Monday 11 November