Monday, January 31, 2011

Keith Jarrett – Sun Bear Concerts

   In 1973 Keith Jarrett started giving big concerts without playing any standard melodies, using totally improvising melodies and passages and creating unique compositions in deep emotional interaction with the public. Jarrett’s improvisations became unexpectedly great triumph when published on records. His first fully improvised double LP The Köln Concert sold in 3,5 million copies became best-selling solo album and best-selling piano album in history of jazz. The major Keith Jarrett achievement in solo totally improvised public performance is published by ECM in 1978 10 LP box titled: Sun Bear Concerts – Piano Solo – Recorded in Japan. 
   The album is edition of documentary material recorded live during his Japanese concert tour in November 1976. Ten records in box made of recycled paper assemble documentary of five concerts – every gig on two records – Kyoto (Nov. 5th), Osaka (Nov. 8th), Nagoya (Nov. 12th), Tokyo (Nov. 14th) and Sapporo (Nov. 18th). While box is made of beige „trash-paper”, records are in dark blue-grey cardboard blank covers and accompanied by insert in very same cardboard cover, containing inside black and white photos and Gertrude Stein’s sentence „think of your ears as eyes”. A lot of space and carefully chosen photos made booklet essential attachment to this edition.

Keith Jarrett – Sun Bear Concerts (1978)

   Sequences of chords and figurations, themes raising from simple motifs, transforming into riffs and ostinati creating background for next level of melodic patterns – almost totally free flow of ideas and emotions with full control of harmony and melody characteristics – this is what makes Jarrett’s world so exciting. Every concert of 1976 Japan tour has it’s own unique style, and every one is breaking through the principles of jazz forms. In opening Kyoto concert Jarrett stays still on solid ground of American jazz and gospel tradition. Osaka concert is founded on more popular melodic and rhythmic patterns. This parts can be perceived as continuation of the same attitude he show almost two years earlier in Cologne. The same one may say about Nagoya presentation, but here pianist is much deeper in his lyric dominant and dramatic climax.
   Last two concerts are based on contradicted principles. Tokyo concert with its poetic visions and lyrical themes can be example of rising Jarrett’s style. Melodic invention predominates this lyrical idea which in final part of Tokyo concert gives almost visual effect. Recorded four days later Sapporo appearance shows modern, more progressive face of the artist. He is breaking his own esthetics and falls at the end into strongly syncopated rhythms and expressive dissonances. After he drop out classical form of theme with cycle of variations, Keith Jarrett’s improvisations are romantic in its core. They are closer to romantic fantasies than jazz formations. His unusual musical visions evoking pictorial or even dramatic associations, and this is what makes them so much involving for wide public. Booklet for Sun Bear Concerts was the place the sentence „think of your ears as eyes” appeared for the first time in such musical context. And there is no reason to believe this connection is accidental.

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