Firstly, although very familiar with Jarrett's work (over 40 years),I did not attend either concert. However, the reason for my title is that how this set appears to me, a monumental one and a half hours at London with Jarrett at his best, with a shorter, and for me less satisfactory concert in Paris. The 5 stars are awarded for the London concert alone.
These concerts were recorded whist Jarrett was still recovering from his second wife walking out on him, and was not mentally that strong. Perhaps the stress, anguish, and emotional turmoil was the driving force to create such emotive music. Both concerts follow the Radiance style insofar that the improvisations are broken into sections, 12 for London. It starts with a melancholic piece, and moves through a more abstract section, rhythmic, almost blues based pieces, pulsating moods, beautiful pieces and culminates with a piece with a touch of gospel in the theme.
I love Jarrett's trio work, but his solo concerts are the diamonds. The impact London has made on me is enormous on the first play, with some of the most intense, emotional playing I have heard from him for a long time - it's an absolute joy!
Unlike most Jarrett albums, there is an informative booklet with a 5 page essay by the man himself talking about why he moved to sectionalised works, rather than the mammoth length pieces he used to perform, the effect that producing such works has on himself, and his marriage break up - it really sets the scene.
Although not relevant to the music, I am delighted that the set comes completely in cardboard,(3 wallets in a slipcase), as not only is it environmentally sound, I abhor those plastic boxes, well done ECM.
I have been anticpating this release since reading the concert reviews. I was not lucky enough to get to the London show as it was sold out before I knew of it. These 2 concerts have got to be amongst the finest Keith Jarrett has ever recorded. I have pratically all his output on vinyl or CD but I am amazed at the invention and quality of what he produces here. The Paris recording may appear as a bonus disc but I love it and have played it through about 6 times already, as I have the London discs. So much variety and invention. Wether playing contemplatively or discordantly he comes up with some astonishing music, and incredibly all improvised. Difficult to pick out highlights as it is a total listening experience.
The London concert is as most seem to know amongst the finest he has ever done, and going by the sleeve notes KJ too. His personal circumstances surrounding the concert bring out music of staggering depth and feeling. I am left breathless after each listen. The second disc of London parts VII-XII blows me away.
If you are a fan you will buy it anyway an if you are new to his music get it too listen with an open mind and be amazed. Most people would cite the Koln concert as his best and more accessible, but I find this more rewarding in the long run. At 64 he is still coming up with fresh ideas, long may he do much more as he obviously has much more to say with the power of the the piano at his fingertips.
I was lucky enough to attend the London concert that is so beautifully captured in this CD set. I'd discovered that Keith Jarrett was performing in London only on the actual day of the concert and by that time tickets were, of course, sold out. Still, as a long time follower of Jarrett, I just HAD to travel into town in the hope that I might, somehow, be able to get to see the concert.
As I approached the entrance to the Festival Hall, I was met by a man shouting, "Anyone want a ticket?" No, he was not a tout, there were no touts that I could see. It turned out that one of this man's party had just phoned him to say he was not able to make the concert, hence his ticket was going spare. And so the magic began...
As an improvising musician myself, MY experience and expectation is that it normally takes a minute or three before the greatest creative goodies start to reveal themselves. But Jarrett was having none of THAT. The INSTANT he started to play, I realised he had gone straight to a point of intense inspiration, this first piece having a most mystical and other worldly quality. As the evening progressed, Jarrett continued to express this musical fire, without lapse or stagnation, every note full of life and love! His playing was stylistically diverse, always inspired and, really, quite amazing! I left the venue changed, healed, shocked!
I have enjoyed many of Jarrett's solo offerings but, for me, this is the very best. The recording quality is fine, if not quite as lush sounding as a couple of Jarrett's other solo offerings. The first CD in this three CD set, recorded in Paris, is also rather special though I am more in love with the London concert, no doubt because I was in the room when that baby was born!
As you might have guessed by now, I very highly recommend this CD set!
After managing to bag some back row tickets at the London concert, I was keen to get my hands on this CD!
Jarrett's odd grumbles with the audience, for which he has made a name for himself, are completely forgiven in my opinion taking into account the magic ambience he created that evening!
Every time I hear this album, small subtleties emerge that I quite obviously must have missed while trying to get a glimpse of his fingers through some binoculars. I agree with previous reviews in that the Paris concert, to me, seems slightly inferior and almost a "warm up" for the London concert with some ideas presented in one and developed in the other.
I loved this album. The London Concert is outstanding, Paris less so but still terrific.
I have only discovered Keith Jarrett in the last 3 or 4 years. I love the way in which he develops an idea and takes it places you could never imagine. The solo piano, in lesser hands, can become monotonous and lack excitement but this is never a danger with Jarrett who is surely to be numbered among the greats of jazz piano. Just when you tyhink he must have exhausted a theme he takes it in a new and wonderful direction. Each listening rewards you with something new to enjoy.
I am a jazz fan of long standing but I went to the London concert having sampled Keith Jarrett's music hardly at all and I experienced a pleasant revalation in finding out how much I had missed. I have had the good fortune to see some of the jazz greats such as Ella Fitgerald, Duke Ellington and Count Basie but it was an unforgettable experience to see one man hold a packed house enthralled for neatly two hours with such wonderful music. How much courage, stamina and skill does it take to perform such a feat? is a question only Keith Jarrett can answer. We were just lucky enough to hear him create a world of unforgettable sounds as we listened. The album nisses out someone in the audience shouting "I love you Keith!" when he first appeared. This rather miffed me at the time but I understood completely when he took his final standing ovation.
I took this album first as a download, just when I was beginning to understand the limits of downloads. It plays as a single unit, like the Shostakovich Preludes and Fugues which he has also recorded, when what we have is actually two distinct units constructed from many parts. ECM has chosen to issue the Paris and London concerts of Nov/Dec 2008 as a triple album, spoiling us Jarrett fans more than somewhat but perhaps giving us too much, too much, in one go. The pianist himself might view these two concerts as a singular output, united by his state of mind at the time, but they have distinct beginnings and ends and are each demanding and rewarding enough as listens. Apart from that there is little to say other than: here is Keith Jarrett at his brilliant, varied best yet again. Lyrical and foot stamping in turn, always intelligent but when feelings enter they go de-ee-ee-p. Early reports of his new double album (single concert), Rio, suggest he is through his crisis and crossing a more sunlit landscape. I look forward to hearing it on disc, but might just take the download also, to listen without that annoying disc change break. If you read this, Keith, keep going. Huge crowds of us are running along behind. Site WorksLa ScalaParis / London - TestamentThe Blue Moment: Miles Davis's Kind of Blue and the Remaking of Modern Music
London, Part I: The music of cosmic beauty, played by an extraterrestrial, wonderfully recorded. If you want to extract yourself from reality for a while, for whatever the reason, you just put it on and listen, again, again and again....
Well of course I haven't heard the CD yet. (as I write on 1st September 09) But I was at the London show. It was quite a remarkable concert by any standard. I remember coming away with the initial feeling that the show seemed to be a mixture of Tokyo Solo and Live at the Carnegie Hall recordings - yet was more developed and more beautiful than any recordings I have heard since Paris Concert. The encores (5 of them) contained many favourites - My Song, Paint My Heart Red, Blues, and were much more rewarding in my opinion than the Carnegie Hall recording versions. The two sets (which were also like the Carnegie Hall / Tokyo recordings in style) were that much more developed, direct, assured yet charged with creative energy and danger, and at times astonishingly beautiful - the often long pauses after the last note played was a testament to the state of grace that had been achieved and the shock that the audience was feeling at being witness to such heights of improvised perfection.
I've read many posts since the show from people praying that the London show would be released on CD. I think we all knew it was something really special ( I have seen quite a few KJ shows in my time).
It will be especially interesting to compare the Paris / London performances. Paris has a history of bringing out the best in Jarrett (Paris Concert - probably my favourite of all KJ solo improvisations).
I have a feeling this release will become a new favourite.
What could possibly top this release? (Hamburg solo '82 - hear the amazing bootlegs on youtube - come on ECM, get a move on with the solo concert releases).
I am just ecstatic that this show will be released on CD. It was amazing. We should all encourage it. Snap it up. Show ECM we have a big appetite for such releases. (hundreds more gathering dust on tape)