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Jazz pianist Keith Jarrett is known for his improvisational solo concerts. A recent two-CD set captures one that took place last year at Carnegie Hall.

And our critic Tom Moon says it features Jarrett in top form.

TOM MOON: Here's the first thing Keith Jarrett played onstage at Carnegie Hall, September 30th, 2005.

(Soundbite of piano)

MOON: Here's where he winds up 3 1/2 minutes later.

(Soundbite of piano)

MOON: Of course, skipping ahead like this doesn't do Keith Jarrett justice. For decades now, the thrill of his solo concerts has been the journey, the chance to follow along as he massages stray thoughts into larger themes, with their own subplots and variations. This he does without a score and in real time. Jarrett has said that he come to the stage with nothing prepared. He plays what occurs to him in the moment.

(Soundbite of piano)

MOON: When he performed solo in the 1970s, Jarrett would morph one theme into another, creating one very long stream of music. On this disc, when he's exhausted an idea, he stops.

“The Carnegie Hall Concert” has 10 distinct segments, plus two long outbreaks of applause that Jarrett left on the disc. One of them last nearly three minutes. When he returns for his Carnegie Hall encore, he doesn't free associate any further. Instead, Jarrett plays loose, wondrous version of Tin Pan Alley songs, as well as this lullaby he wrote in the 1970s, which is called “My Song.”

(Soundbite of song, “My Song”)

(Soundbite of applause)

MOON: Keith Jarrett has put out so many recordings of his solo concerts, you'd think he's flooded the market. People probably think they've heard one and they know them all. This evening long experience suggests that's not the case.

When his synapses are firing the they obviously were at Carnegie, Jarrett's ambling journeys become the musical equivalent of a vision quest.

BLOCK: Keith Jarrett's latest album is “The Carnegie Hall Concert.” Our reviewer is Tom Moon.

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