CD Review: Keith Jarrett - Rio

Keith Jarrett - Rio
(ECM 277 6645. CD Review by Chris Parker)


The level of inspiration experienced by Keith Jarrett at this solo concert, recorded in Rio de Janeiro in April 2011, can be gauged by the fact that he utters one of his celebrated involuntary groans only four minutes into it, and thereafter, the intensity never flags for a moment, building through two CDs' worth of stunningly inventive improvisation to an almost delirious pitch.

'Improvisation', of course, is merely a convenient tag as far as Jarrett's solo work is concerned; many of these pieces might more accurately be described as 'spontaneous compositions', relying as they do on repeated sequences of chords, or familiar structures from the blues or gospel music, but however they're described, the fifteen shortish pieces that make up this concert are simply spellbinding, eliciting great roars of approval from what sounds like Jarrett's ideal audience: silently attentive during the pieces, uninhibitedly supportive after they've finished.

Identifying the source of Jarrett's appeal is nearly as difficult as defining his approach, but perhaps the word that best conveys his unique connection with audiences is duende, the term used, most often in flamenco, to describe the heightened state of emotion that enables a performer to express feeling with unimpeachable authenticity. Whatever it is, though, Jarrett has it in spades, and whether he's playing peerlessly affecting ballads infused with his trademark yearning earnestness, joyously effervescent romps or simply(!) improvising on a bluesy shuffle, he performs with rare and profoundly affecting passion and sincerity throughout this superb concert, an occasion he himself describes as 'jazzy, serious, sweet, playful, warm, economical, energetic, passionate, and connected with the Brazilian culture in a unique way'.

Rio at ECM Records

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