on 22 June 2001
I first heard this music in 1975 or so, at a friend's house. I bought the two-disc LP right away. The first five notes blew me away, with their utter simplicity. What Jarret builds up from them is absolutely astonishing. It's not "classical"; it's not "jazz"; it's not "fusion"; it's not "New Age". It's something so completely UNLIKE any other piano music that I have ever heard, that it transcends description. Its melodic structure plays on the outer edges of consciousness. It's as though you never heard a piano before. It's so unlike most piano music that one expects the author to be an alien from outer space.
Jarrett "plays" the piano on this recording with an intensity and originality that defies description.
on 10 May 2007
One cannot express in words the beauty of this music. It is utterly raw, coming straight from the heart, a work of sheer genius. Whilst many pieces of so-called piano jazz easily lend themselves to the background of an occasion, the Koln Concert demands constant attention; with all of its changes in tempo, key, style and melody, the listener is enticed into the music, eagerly awaiting the next delicate keystrokes. Indeed, rather than being required to glean the often precious-few moments of brilliance from much music, with Keith Jarrett at the piano, the listener finds these instances thrust upon them every few seconds!
If you concentrate on the music for just a minute, you will find melodies which would ordinarily be the core of a piece, but which in this situation are simply played fleetingly, only to be replaced by yet another gorgeous tune.
I highly recommend this music to absolutely anyone; you do not have to be a jazz-lover to appreciate it! Even if you have never listened to this genre before (I am still unsure as to what "this genre" actually is!!), I sincerely appeal to you to give it a go! I promise you won't be disappointed!
If you do decide to purchase this album, and enjoy it anywhere near as much as I have, may I also recommend the Sun Bear Concerts, the Paris Concert, and Live at Carnegie Hall for more of the same! Jarrett has also played in a jazz trio, with Gary Peacock and Jack DeJohnette, and their music is also excellent. Other jazz pianists who I have found to have a similar touch include; Brad Mehldau, Bill Evans and Michael Wollny, although their music tends not to be improvised.
There are already so many reviews of this fantastic (literally) album that my contribution is really unnecessary. However this is such an amazing album that I felt that I needed to add support to the previous comments. On any grading system this deserves more than five stars. In some ways its sheer perfection make this beyond grade or criticism.
I have had a copy of this music for many years and find it so totally absorbing to listen too.
Because it is improvised music of such sensitivity and beauty it is incomparable. By some definitions, this is jazz, but it is truly beyond category. A concert of this quality is not just "once in a lifetime" it is a truly unique occasion.
I have other Keith Jarrett albums and none come close to this in quality.
Every lover of music, of whatever genre, should have a copy of this album. It should be given to every "Desert Island Discs" castaway along with the Bible. I'm taking my copy too! Then I'll have two copies!
on 5 October 2011
I'm seldom given to hyperbole but this is truly the most beautiful music I've ever heard. The first movement left me breathless with admiration, the last almost moved me to tears. Yet oddly I came across it through an article by Mel Nichols, in a classic car magazine. He used the Concert to describe his emotions driving a carefully honed sports car in a way that made the music and drive come to life. Mel is always a good writer, but the poetry in this small column, was magical.
This is how his story about the drive began..
' Keith Jarrett is a pianist. One of his best albums is called the Koln Concert. There's just him, alone on stage. He begins playing, building his melody from a few notes. They are sweet, enchanting. He starts to move along expanding into one riff and then another, all linked, and all built up from those first few notes. And what notes they are! Clear and ringing, each pregnant with beauty. And his timing! He climbs, almost tentatively, almost feeling his way, and then, after the merest and most perfect hesitation, tumbles into long exquisite runs. He goes on building and building until, about halfway through the first side of the first record, everything that has gone before is coordinated into music of such pendulum-rhythm, of such melody and delicacy and yet such decisiveness and control, that its beauty engulfs you. And the flow of it is such, as it sweeps you along that- like Jarrett himself-you have to cry out for joy.
And that's how it was, in the Kremer Porsche. In a series of bends, on a quiet afternoon, somewhere deep in Somerset.'
So thanks Mel for introducing me to this album, and for the poetry of your writing, and thanks to the editor of Classic and Sportscar for having the sensitivity to publish it.
I'd recommend this music to anyone knowing that they won't be disappointed. Its utterly stunning.
on 4 May 2014
It's not often that I'm lost for words, but this album has done it for me.
I learnt to play classical piano as a kid, and shortly after started improvising too, and that's probably why I love this concert.
Jarrett does things with this instrument that are both extraordinary and exquisite.
He fuses styles and genres with effortless ease, to create something truly unique.
Other soloists have come along since, and you can see echoes of his works in their creations.
And like all great musicians, he makes some complex themes sound disarmingly simple, if only...
I hope others new to his music give this one a go, and enjoy, well worth the time and investment.
There can be no doubt that Keith Jarrett is a massively gifted virtuoso pianist, one who is impossible to categorise. His improvised concerts are legendary, each totally unique and a masterpiece in its own right, and depending for its outcome on many factors - the instrument, the location, the audience, the climate and much more. Sometimes Jarrett veers off into classical and baroque themes, sometimes a touch of jazz and dixie influence, maybe some bluesy notes, often a country feel - wherever the mind of Jarrett wanders. I found it telling that another of my heroes, virtuoso guitarist Antonio Forcione, speaks with reverence about how he managed to see Jarrett play and sat spellbound for the entire evening - this being a moment in history, one not to be repeated: one man bonded totally with his instrument.
For the Köln concert, the fact that he did not get his first choice of piano influenced his decision to vamp around the middle section of the keyboard, while weaving into the structure delicate melodies and beguiling harmonies. With the atmosphere you gain the thrill of being present within the recording, at the cost of slightly flawed sound quality and occasional blips in the playing. It's worth it: the fact that this is regarded as a seminal work in the history of jazz and live instrumentation says all you need to know. If you have not heard this work, do so - not a matter of like or dislike, it is one of those moments where the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end.
on 16 August 2015
I remember years ago listening to Nude Ants. I don't think I was ready at the time for Keith Jarrett's innovative and skilful take on the jazz environment. Listening again recently I was more taken and much more impressed by a sparkling performance and a vein of humour that seems to go through a lot of his work.
The Koln Concert was apparently a very late night affair with Mr Jarrett in bad personal form following a demanding tour which meant that he was suffering from back problems and had very little sleep before this performance.
You would never know from the sounds of this album. I find it exhilarating and intense in places, but overall a lightly held torch of improvisational genius. Highly recommended.
on 19 June 2005
If you like contemporary melodious piano music with a laid-back and refreshingly inspirational flow, then I can thoroughly recommend the Koln concert. It's been with me for over 10 years now and I keep coming back to it - it hasn't dated, doesn't bore and it always lightens my mood when I play it. You need not be into Jazz (you might also want to look at Bill Evans) to enjoy this, and I'm less wowed by his other works, but the Koln music is sublime. Fortunately I can now selfishly carry it around with me as one of my iPod favourites.
on 24 April 2015
Well,of course it's 5 stars,it is the seminal solo KJ work,full of jazz,soul,barrelhouse,spiritual,you name it,it has it music.A triumphant masterpiece,from the "Solo Now"period of jazz history,more or less forgotten by most.This is it's greatest example,and a fabulous one at that.A classic,in every sense.Magnificent.Superlatives abound,but if you don't know this,your life is the poorer for its absence.
Keith Jarrett's 'The Koln Concert' was one of those albums that I have always been aware of, since it was first released back in the mid-1970s. I was put off buying it, because I thought it would be impenetrable Jazz noodling. However, a couple of years ago, the broadcaster Paul Gambaccini did a BBC Radio 4 documentary on the recording in his 'One Night Only' series on historic in-concert recordings, which I found very illuminating, and revived my interest in wanting to hear the album. I decided to purchase the vinyl reissue version, and I am so glad that I did. It's not a 'Jazz' recording per se; in truth, it doesn't fit any tidy genre pigeonhole. It's simply a beguling, wonderfully immersive outpouring of creativity from a supremely gifted musician, at a real peak of his musical powers. In four side-long tracks, the quality of the piano recording is wonderful, and the microphone picks up Jarrett's exclamations of joy at what he's creating. Great Record