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This was Jarrett's first album for Impulse and the first with producer Ed Michel. (The record company would replace Michel with Edmond Edwards about three years later, prompting Jarrett to abandon Impulse and record exclusively for ECM.) Although this basic group had recorded several previous albums for Atlantic and Columbia, this was it's first live recording and the first to fully display the improvisational gifts of all the band members. This reissue is expanded and remixed. The first track, (If the) Misfits (Wear it) is an example of this band's fireworks. The opening pounding rhythms on the piano set up a feeling of tension. The statement of the melody sets up a great piano solo, followed by a tenor sax solo by Dewey Redman. This unedited version lengthens his solo by a couple of minutes and it's worth every second. The title song is next. Fort Yawuh is an anagram for Fourth Way, a concept Jarrett had run across in the writings of G I. Gurdjieff. Dewey Redman's solo on musette was overpowering on the original release and it is expanded here. The major addition to this track compared to the original lp is a lengthy, mysterious-sounding introduction, wherein Jarrett strums the piano strings. De Drums and Still Life, Still Life are presented just as they were in 1973. The first is a rhythmic workout for the whole band. (My best friend in grad school used to say that the introduction sounded like Proud Mary!) The second is one of Jarrett's most beautiful ballads. Oddly, this reissue still cuts off the tune in the middle of Charlie Haden's bass solo. The final track, Roads Travelled, Roads Veiled, Had first appeared on an Impulse live sampler in an excerpt about five minutes long. The entire 20 minute performance is here and it is magnificent.Read more ›
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Keith Jarrett fans usually look at his 70s output in terms of solo performances (the Koln Concert) and the quartet with Jan Garbarek (Belonging, My Song, etc.) but often overlook one of his finest groups -- the American "quartet" with Dewey Redman, Charlie Haden, Paul Motian and the occasional percussionist. This live album features this group at its best: an eclectic mixture of Ornette-ish freebop ("Misfits"), Bill Evans-influenced lyricism ("Still Life, Still Life"), groovin' soul jazz ("De Drums"), and North African exoticism (the dramatic "Roads Travelled, Roads Veiled"). But the band's identity is so cohesive and unique that these are merely influences. Jarrett's playing is alternately funky and spiky, lyrical and dissonant, reflective and intense. Motian and Haden are an attentive, flexible rhythm section (whether soft or hard-hitting), while Redman provides fiery playing on the tenor sax and more quirky sounds on clarinet and the Chinese musette. Unfortunately Fort Yawuh is the only one of this group's eight Impulse! albums currently in print domestically; if you want to hear more, I suggest getting the 5 CD box set "The Impulse Years 1973-74". Unless you are really uncertain about this music or are really strapped for cash, I'd spring for the box instead -- it offers an entire additional hour of music from this concert as well as three other Impulse! albums (Treasure Island, Death & the Flower and Backhand). But even if you can't afford the better value of the box, I'd still get Fort Yawuh. It's one of Jarrett's best.
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