“Not another Keith Jarrett solo piano album,” I hear you say. In a sense there’s no such thing as a Jarrett solo piano album, anyway: they are all conversations between the improviser, the piano, the room’s acoustics and the audience’s listening intensity. For many years he has recorded all his concerts, and this double-album comes from Venice’s Gran Teatro La Fenice back in 2006. It would have been worth dredging up if all that was released was the 18 minutes of Part I, one of Jarrett’s most brilliantly inventive and wide-ranging creations, its length sustained by his instinct for contrast and his singular ability to impose structure on the fly.
In a break with his usual practice of exclusively playing freely (and there are eight such pieces here, including the diaphanous Part VI and a super-groovy blues, Part VIII), Jarrett also performs four actual songs, and the choice is wildly eclectic. Try Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Sun Whose Rays, the traditional My Wild Irish Rose (enchanting), a surprisingly boisterous Stella by Starlight and, especially intriguingly, a revisiting of his own Blossom from the fabled Belonging album. This man can take a piano anywhere.