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27 Years Ago, Keith Jarrett Was A One-Man Band

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27 Years Ago, Keith Jarrett Was A One-Man Band

Music Reviews

27 Years Ago, Keith Jarrett Was A One-Man Band

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MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Keith Jarrett is a jazz legend. His recordings include solo piano improvisations, trio and quartet works, classical performances, sessions with Miles Davis, and much more. But there's nothing quite like Jarrett's latest release titled "No End." This double CD is new to listeners but Jarrett recorded it in his home studio back in 1986. And he plays all the instruments, notably drums, bass and electric guitar.

Banning Eyre has this review.

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BANNING EYRE: Leave it to Keith Jarrett to keep a surprise like this up his sleeve for 27 years.

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EYRE: His prodigious work is marked by virtuosity and rigor. He is famously fussy on stage. But as a longtime fan, I've always been drawn to a certain warmth, looseness, and funkiness in Jarrett's work. And these qualities shine on "No End."

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EYRE: Jarrett says he loves playing drums and guitar because they're instruments you touch directly, unlike piano, where mechanisms intervene. Listening to "No End" is like eavesdropping on the maestro's private world, where he's truly at play. These aren't compositions, just spontaneous creations with, as he puts it, hit or miss beginnings and endings.

We even hear the hiss of the cassette tape he used for the session. For all that, Jarrett's singular melodic gift and rich sensitivity to musical textures are unmistakable.

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EYRE: With all his achievement, it's brave of Jarrett to reveal himself in this youthful, experimental, even innocent light. Looking back, he shares a surprising fondness for the ecstasy of the '60s, Haight-Ashbury and the nascent days of hippiedom. Jarrett's home studio creations can sound like classic Grateful Dead jams.

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EYRE: These 20 tracks are really a single work by a one-man band. The harmonies are simple, often one-chord vamps set to steady grooves. The playing is competent, but never virtuoso. "No End" is a seductive time-capsule from one of the greatest jazzmen of our times. A different artist might have kept this to himself, but Jarrett seems to cherish rediscovering a side of his younger self, and he wonders how he could have left it in the drawer all these years.

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BLOCK: Banning Eyre is senior editor at Afropop.org. He reviewed "No End" by Keith Jarrett.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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