Two of vibraphonist Gary Burton's albums from 1969-1970 are reissued in full on this single CD. Burton teams up with pianist Keith Jarrett for five numbers (including four of Jarrett's originals) in 1970, using a quintet that also features guitarist Sam Brown, bassist Steve Swallow, and drummer Bill Goodwin. The other session has more of an avant-country flavor, with Burton, Swallow, and Goodwin joined by guitarist Jerry Hahn and violinist Richard Greene; Michael Gibbs and Swallow contributed most of the obscurities. Burton was at his most explorative during this period, which is why he can be considered one of the pioneers of fusion (although his music never really fit into a tight category). This is excellent music that mostly still sounds fresh.
Jarrett brings to his Mozart repertoire steadiness of interpretation and relaxation that may surprise listeners who know him mainly for the adventurousness and quirks of his celebrated marathon solo recordings. A jazz pianist performing classical music might be expected to take rubato liberties. Jarrett does not. His reading of the magnificent pre-Romantic D-minor concerto No. 20, K. 466, employs effective dynamics without extremes in the direction of Arthur Rubenstein's daring and exuberance in the rondo, Mitsuko Uchida's mystique behind the beat in the romance movement or Clara Haskil's blurred articulation at the piano entry in the allegro.
Ray Davies published a memoir chronicling his life-long affair with America in 2013. Naturally, it was called Americana, and that's also the title of this 2017 musical adaptation of the book. Davies plays a little fast and loose with his facts, which is perhaps a detriment in an autobiography but suits the condensed nature of songwriting. He doesn't tell a story with Americana – it's not a song cycle along the lines of Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire) – but rather offers a series of vignettes, some torn from the pages of his book, others expanding upon its themes. Images of highways, cowboys, and movies dance through the songs, as do sly allusions to the Kinks…
Keith Jarrett's first solo acoustic piano recording remains one of his best. At this point in late 1971, Jarrett had just started improvising completely freely. That does not mean that his solos were necessarily atonal but simply that they were not planned in any way in advance. The music on these eight improvisations are often quite melodic, very rhythmic and bluesy. This set makes for a perfect introduction to Jarrett's many solo piano recordings.
Jarrett's 1970s albums may have confused some purists but they should be a goldmine for contemporary fans of all stripes who like improvised music. El Juicio is an excellent early Jarrett album and finds him in typically eclectic form with his classic American quartet. I nominate the opener, "Gypsy Moth," as the best piece on the record. Sounding a little like a more confident version of "Lisbon Stomp," from Jarrett's 1967 debut album Life Between the Exit Signs, Jarrett first whips up a rollicking theme on the piano and then switches to soprano sax towards the end, the rhythm section swinging hard throughout.
“The Bregenz/Munich concerts were Jarrett’s most brilliant live solo recordings to date; his level of inspiration is quite extraordinary, and the music covers a wider musical and emotional range than ever.” – Jarrett biographer Ian Carr
With saxophonist Jan Garbarek and bassist Charlie Haden along for the ride, Keith Jarrett indulges in three slow, rambling, meditative, vaguely neo-classical concertos for piano and string orchestra. While a few of Jarrett's and Garbarek's passages here and there have a syncopated jazz feeling, this is mostly contemporary classical music, perhaps even somewhat ahead of its time (it might fit in with the neo-Romantic and minimalist camps today). However, although this music can be attractive in small doses, the lack of tempo or texture contrasts over long stretches of time – particularly the nearly 28-minute "Mirrors" – can be annoying if you're not in the right blissful mood. Mladen Gutesha and the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra perform the string parts with what can only be described as commendable patience.
Recorded at his home studio in 1986, the double album No End illuminates hitherto undocumented aspects of Keith Jarrett's music. He is heard on electric guitars, electric bass, drums and percussion, overdubbing tribal dances of his own devising: "Somehow something happened during these days in the 80s that won't ever be repeated," he writes in his liner notes. "There was really, to my knowledge, no forethought or composition - in the typical sense - going on; just a feeling or a rhythmic idea or a bass line concept or melody. None of this was written down."