Saturday, June 03, 2006

keith jarrett changes

I've been a Keith Jarrett fan since I was in high school. There's something attractive about risk, like his moth and the flame, that I need. The first recording I owned was not the Koln concert, but Changes. I found it after seeing most of a video on PBS (Last Solo). I don't remember why I chose Changes, but it was probably because it was a "new release" at the time.

It was a good first choice. I didn't understand it at first, but was drawn into the eminor opening...very minimal, cellular motives, gradually opening up as Gary and Jack join in. It struck me that this was like the first colors of a painting (definitely dark green) laid down before details. I liked that development happened slowly, and the tonal framework was very restricted. Parts of it were pretty avant garde to my teenage ears, less so as time went on. I listened to it hundreds of times, each night in the dark. I wore that cassette out! It wasn't until I got married that I finally replaced that tape with a CD.

Since then, I've bought (almost) every kj recording I could find. Damn Amazon! Makes it too easy to spend money. It used to be that I'd stumble on his recordings in some out of the way place. For some reason, I distinctly remember buying Arbour Zena and Solo Concerts on a trip to Maine...Sun Bear concerts was a special order from Sam the Record Man in Toronto, all vinyl. Later on, Changeless (Winnipeg), Vienna (Vancouver), Standards in Norway (Des Moines), Live at the Blue Note (NYC), Sun Bear CDs (Montreal). Once I started replacing my vinyl with CDs, I gave all my old records to Walter at Schweitzer Lodge in Sutton, Quebec, including the big 10-record Sun Bear set. Who'd have thought I'd regret that? Walter was a kindred spirit, and has enjoyed them for sure. As I push 40, I find myself nostalgic for those fragile vinyl things, thinking they're somehow different from the CDs. It's led me on a quest to duplicate some of the collection (Solo Concerts, for example), and I think I'll call it done when I find a good Sun Bear vinyl set.

Like my other obsessions (Copland, Thai food, Donald Hall, etc.), kjs music has moved around in my consciousness. I go for months without paying much attention. When I am drawn back in, it's usually along familiar paths: Changes, Arbor Zena, Bregenz. The paths lead me to listen more closely to the new: Radiance, Inside Out, Up For It; and return to things I've forgotten: Paris, Munich, Ritual, Sacred Hymns.

From the beginning I've wanted to share the connection to kjs music with others, but it's an acquired taste. I can think about it academically, analyze it, connect it to philosophy. At the end of the trip, through, its the association of motives to memories that works for me. The 5/8 rhythms of Arbour Zena and the waves between Cape Breton and Newfoundland. Learning the opening of Bregenz in a hot practice room at McGill. Rehearing Paris on my way to Paris. Absorbing Summertime (solo) live at the Festival du Jazz in Montreal. These are my threads of Jarrett. Personal, and valuable.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

how fine to find a serious keith jarrett fan! i have been wanting to get arbour zena on my ipod. i bought the album when it came out (i was two years old - smile!) but somehow it got lost during one of my moves (university mayhem). i miss the sound that only now exists in my memory. i have plenty of kj to listen to but i still miss that album -
big kj fan and aspiring jazz piano player.

9:50 AM  

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