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The Koln Concert Live
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The third track ("IIb") alone is a gem that is worth the price of the disc. I've listened to it a hundred times, and I continue to be astonished by the journey it takes you through: a steady progression over moody, lyrical landscapes, spiralling up to a jagged peak, urged on by Jarrett's mesmerizing left-hand work and annotated at the crest by his own gasped vocalizations, as if he, too, were amazed at the scenery. Its the climax of the whole concert --there's nowhere to go but gently retrace our steps back down to the sweet coda of "IIc". Truly a masterpiece of improvisation.
The recording that, unfortunately, launched a thousand New Age noodlers seeking to capture its mood in simplified imitation; its no wonder that Jarrett has mixed feelings about it. And yes, as a long-time fan, I wouldn't even say its his best work. But it still speaks to me across the years like few other pieces of music I have ever known, in any category. I can't imagine ever tiring of it...and those who have heard it know what I mean.
And finally: if you like Jarrett's solo piano improvisations but haven't heard 'La Scala' yet, PLEASE do yourself a favor and click on over to get it asap. More technically brilliant than 'Koln' (as you would expect given the interval between the two performances), and the encore of "Over the Rainbow" is achingly beautiful. An absolute must-have.
Now, as my appreciation of all of Jarrett's masterful recordings has increased, I can appreciate this, the Cologne Concert, for what it is: A transcendant piece of music in its own right, unique from all the others. The story of its creation is remarkable: Jarrett was forced to play on an inferior piano with weak high and low ranges...as a result he concentrated on the midrange, accentuating that particular instrument's potential and creating music that sounds unlike anything else he's ever done.
I initially thought it was "lighter" in texture than his other solo work (particularly the two mentioned above), now I realize that it simply speaks a different language.
I think that hard-core Jarrett fans tend to regard this album with just a bit of suspicion, precisely because it has enjoyed such continuing popularity. This, of course, is nonsense: Just because this particular album enjoys mass appeal doesn't take anything away from it, and it is not this album's fault that it has spawned a score of imitations from lesser artists.
The "bottom line" is that this album contains a special quality, a "magic" that transforms it into music for the ages. From the opening expression (listen for the barely-audible sound of a woman's laughter right after the first five notes) "the Cologne Concert" captures something mystical, and beyond explanation. If this is your first exposure to Keith Jarrett, I envy your voyage of discovery. Just don't let it stop here.
Keith's comments on this album have tempted the masses to react with intelectual prejudice to this album. It's easy to understand, because the music IS very accesible, specially the first part. I find most of the pseudo-intellectual Koln bashers hardly make a convincing argument against the obvious emotional depth of the concert. They feel intellectually ordinary if they let Koln sink too deep in them, and they would rather stand and claim 'it's not as good as everyone thinks', because it gives them the chance to sound interesting and, perhaps, closer to Keith's genius, as the man has responded quite negatively to Koln. Still, I bet that if Keith had kept his mouth shut, a lot of these pretentious reviews would dissapear. Later I will say why I feel Keith's comments on the album has been misunderstood by the intellectual bashers.
Simply put, the Koln Concert is trascendental. Of course, it doesn't have the harmonic complexity found in other Keith releases, like Vienna, La Scala and some of the Sun Concerts. This concert, however, has by far the most cohesive development in all of Keith's solo concerts. The first part of the concert, specially, is something that will never repeat itself in history. The aura that emanates from the music is impregnated with depth that can't be esteemed from theorical understanding.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is arguably the best piano performance in jazz ever recorded!Published 2 months ago by Alexandre M.
The playing is magnificent. Unfortunately, I'm one of Keith's fans who can't see the vocal sounds as part of the music, otherwise I would have rated it five stars.Published 3 months ago by John W. Fowler
listened to this when I was in college back 20 + yrs ago , still great.Published 3 months ago by Coastal
What can be said about Keith Jarrett that hasn't already been said? I hadn't listened to this for decades. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Steven W. Bell
Let me first say this is one of my favorite albums. However, the Newberry Comic clear vinyl edition that I received had only the first record the record with sides 3 & 4 was... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Leon Cunningham
I got this album as an LP (I think it was a double) when it first hit the shelves back in the 1970s. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Gary W. Hines