89 of 91 people found the following review helpful
on November 9, 2011
I've had trepidations about Jarrett for years. Yes, he's a prodigy with an amazing "touch" but also at times, a raging egomaniac. The Standards trio became boring and Carnegie Hall (which I attended) was technically brilliant but a bit bloodless. This is simply his best recording in decades. The key to this "turnaround" is threefold: first, shorter pieces, so no long vamping as he seeks new themes, melodies, approaches while improvising solo; secondly, choice of material which runs the gamut from reflective and abstract pieces to South African township melodies and even R&B lines, and lastly; a minimum of vocalese/grunting which often mars his performances. Dont know if it was just a night that everything clicked, closure from his divorce, a sense of where he is in his career but as John Fordham wrote in the Guardian, this is a true return to form.
60 of 66 people found the following review helpful
on November 16, 2011
I am a big fan of Keith Jarrett; I've seen him live on three occasions and probably own about 30 of his albums. When "Rio" was announced, a lot of superlatives were thrown out there - Jarrett himself apparently called his producer from the airport right after the concert to make sure the release would have top priority. I assume it was all the advance praise that got me a little too excited and then somewhat disappointed when the CDs finally arrived. Let me be clear: to anyone not well acquainted with Jarrett's music, this must be a wonderful concert, which certainly compares favorably to the vast majority of improvised solo piano performances by other artists. In my opinion, however, it is not fundamentally different from, or better than, some of Jarrett's other recent recordings (like Carnegie Hall or Paris/London). Part XI, for instance, is certainly an enjoyable blues, but it once again uses the baseline we already know from the 1988 Paris Concert and the 2005 Carnegie Hall Concert. To me personally, the recent releases just do not compare to the earlier concerts. It was performances like Lausanne, Bremen (clearly my personal favorite), Köln, the Sun Bear Concerts in Japan, Paris or Vienna, that leave you sitting there with goose bumps and tears in your eyes, wondering how a human brain (and the pair of hands directed by it) can spontaneously generate music of such intensity and complexity.
I would like to emphasize again, however, that I bought this CD with very high expectations, so it may not be a surprise that these expectations were not quite met. I would definitely recommend "Rio" to anyone who loves solo piano. However, if you had never heard of Keith Jarrett before and asked me to introduce you to his most astonishing performances, "Rio" would not be among them; instead, I'd give you a collection of some of the concerts mentioned earlier - those would blow you away.
24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
Rio de Janeiro, and Brazil at large, has long been appreciated for its wide variety of music -- samba, bossa nova, choro, forró, African spiritual, Latin jazz, and American- and European-influenced popular -- that seem to pervade its atmosphere. This 2-disc album of Keith Jarrett in solo improvisations performed before an audience in Rio seems appropriate to the musical spirit of this vibrant city. Indeed, the recordings are his best solo studies in decades, and we are delighted that he has regained the lyricism and joy of earlier times. One new distinction over recent albums is the happy near absence of the random din of keys at the beginning as he vamped for inspiration from some cluster of notes. Instead, he plunges in directly and allows the adventure to dictate the course.
The first track, for instance, is full of jagged kinetic energy and closes with a touch of playful wit. This is followed by a slow thoughtful melancholia. The third track is strong in traditional jazz form whose several themes give the etude romance and cheer. Part IV, an urbane ballad in mood and development, is a 4-minute gem. The next piece propels forward as a lively soul anthem. The last track on the 39-minute first disc has a flavor of Spain, a bolero with tinges of flamenco and the bullring. The second disc of 51 minutes consists of 9 tracks, which also vary in style. It opens with a very romantic ballad. Part VIII is another song, this one allegro and joyful. A sea of high arpeggios leads the next track; its sweet gossamer development has a Chinese mode and a pastoral mood. The aforementioned noisy vamp does return with Part X, although there is a musical core that seems to spin out flares. The ensuing brief boogie-woogie blues allows us to exhale and smile as we are again in familiar territory. The final four pieces -- a quasi-classical chordal diversion; a serious song full of passion and regret; an uplifting R&B hymn; and a tremolo-driven sentimental farewell -- complete the outstanding concert. The musical miasma of Rio was good for Jarrett, and now this album, truly a major opus and milestone for him ranking with the fabled Köln Concert, is good for us.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on January 29, 2012
For those people who have followed Keith Jarrett's solo piano career, they know that in the 1970s Keith Jarrett became famous subsequent to the release of the Köln Concerts. Jarrett was reknowned for playing concerts in which he would play for as long as 45 minutes without pause. A whole series of these was recorded in 1976 in Japan and released as the ten LP Sun Bear Concerts. Jarrett then left the solo piano medium for the most part, concentrating much more in his "Standards" work and other pieces, only to return to the medium from time to time. Starting in 2002 with Radiance, Jarrett has occasionally put out solo piano recordings (Radiance in 2002, The Carnegie Hall Concert in 2005, Paris/London: Testament in 2008, and now Rio in 2011.) All of these recordings seem to follow a similar format. Jarrett is now playing much shorter pieces (typically from 3 to 10 minutes) and the pieces wander less than his old recordings do. (In this regard they are more similar to his 1970's era studio recordings.) And the pieces all tend to fall into one of three categories: they are either (1) fast and atonal, (2) stately and melodic, or (3) funky. The schism between these styles has become a little bit too predictable, the emphasis on the atonal a little bit too heavy. What is generally missing from the latter recordings is any sense that Jarrett has found a "muse" and is following it.
That said, on this latest recording, the schism is a little less pronounced than it has been, the distinctions a little bit more relaxed. There aren't the same highs as when Jarrett was really in the flow on some of his earlier works. But Jarrett finds some very nice moments here and, after all, this is Keith Jarrett. We're not talking about one of his pale imitators. Still, I wish Jarrett could find his muse more often and do less of the technically impressive but emotionally inscrutable material that he has been prone to in the new decade. Finally, other reviewers have noted that there is less of the familiar grunting and vocalizing on on this recording than on many of the previous ones. This is a welcome change.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on November 26, 2011
I was reluctant to buy this new CD by Keith Jarrett, given all the hype and pre-release hoopla surrounding it. The pianist himself felt so strongly about it, that in these cynical and self promotional times we live in, I thought he himself had compromised his art for commerce. But RIO is the real deal, marking a return to Keith Jarrett's lyrical and melodic side. Though there have touches of his lyrical side on recent concert releases, this double CD has a a sustained lyricism that has been missing in his solo concerts since maybe the late 70's, which also contained some of his longest and strongest improvisations. But though these pieces are shorter and more condensed, they do not lack in intensity and emotional power. So if you like the Jarrett of Bremen/ Lausanne and Koln, this double CD will provide you (without all the noodling and transitional vamps that sometimes went on too long) with the melodic beauty,the harmonic inventiveness and the powerful emotional scope of the world's greatest living pianist. A definite 5 star+ recording.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on November 16, 2011
This concert displays the mature mastery of Keith Jarrett. Consisting of shortish pieces that are invariably inspired and lyrical, there is very little of the difficulty and abstraction for the listener that can be experienced on other solo concerts. This album should be an obligatory purchase for Jarrett fans. In rating this 90 minute 2 CD set 4 stars it is worth noting that the tonal quality of the piano seems not of the highest standard.There is an intermittent knocking sound throughout the concert-is this Jarrett's foot tapping or a faulty pedal? Furthermore, the sonics, when listened to on a good sound system, while being quite adequate, have a slight harshness and lack of total clarity that is not usually encountered on the ECM label.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on March 18, 2012
I've been a fan of Keith Jarrett's since his his very first solo album, Facing You. I had heard so many good things about Rio that I instantly ordered it when it came out. I've hardly listened to it since the first couple of runs though it. For me it lacks "fire." It's tough to be Keith Jarrett. I've heard him say in interviews that he's trying not to repeat himself. But for someone who's put out so many albums over the years... well, to me Rio sounds like he's trying not to repeat himself, rather than just letting it fly like he did on his early solo albums. I love Keith and I will be a fan of his until the end, but I was disappointed in Rio.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on December 31, 2011
Confession, I've been listening to this CD for over 2 months, out of neccessity. I'm a slow listener and I tend to get taken in by initial hype and subsequent backlash. Is it good? Definitely. Is it groundbreaking? I'm sceptical concerning the claims of complete originality, I can hear a number of familiar themes and half themes floating in and out of a fairly ecletic mix, not necessarily improvements on but developments of the shorter solo pieces of recent releases. But what makes this special, maybe, is a return to the style and jagged rhythms of much earlier cds such as Facing You(and I even think I detect some earlier pre ECM echoes). This interests me far more than the supposed channeling of some sort of South American muse. His recent solo releases have been serious and sombre and regularly transcedent, simply listen to the Paris/London outing. I do, regularly . But parts of this cd, and especially track V, remind me of the musical wunderkind who transfixed me in the 70s. Now that truly is something, so 5 stars. And if you read Amazon, Mr Jarrett, please return to Australia, we haven't seen you in decades.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 6, 2013
This is the most inspired and original Jarrett solo performance in the past 10 years. The style is vastly different than any other performance he has done. At first the album didn't wow me, but after letting it marinade for a while and then re-listening to many of his old solo concerts, it dawned on me just how profoundly original this concert is. It is a masterpiece, one very different from many of Jarrett's other spectacular performances, but that in my opinion ranks with the likes of some of his greatest.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on December 23, 2011
rio is a solo album by pianist keith jarrett. there are 2 cd's. there are no names but numbers for the different tunes. cd #1 has 6 tracks and is called parts i-vi (tracks 1-6); cd #2 is parts vii-xv (tracks 1-9). i bought this album based on the knowledge that the very fine pianist, stanley cowell, remarked that he listens to keith. i had heard one cut of rio on wpfw (pacifica radio). i purchased 3 copies based on my knowledge of keith that goes back to the charles lloyd group (forest flower). the album explores the various melodic and rhythmic traditions of iberia and africa. the unity of the tracks is not obvious and i have not discerned it, but i'm sure this is the intent of this talented artist.
cd #1 is melodically and rhythmically more difficult, however part 6 is easier and this is demonstrated in the audience response.
cd #2 is more readily accessible and contains very moving pieces.
rio is an outstanding performance - rarely heard today, because few are left from his era. the recording is excellent and the piano appears excellent.
i recommend the album enthusiastically.