Monday, March 06, 2006

Keith Jarrett - Fort Yawuh

Fort Yawuh
impulse! AS9240

Recorded February 1973

1. (If The) Misfits (Wear It)
2. Fort Yawuh
3. De Drums
4. Still Life, Still Life
5. Roads Travelled, Roads Veiled


DEWEY REDMAN; tenor sax, percussion, clarinet, chinese musette
PAUL MOTIAN; drums, percussion
DANNY JOHNSON; percussion

This 1973 recording catches Keith Jarrett at a crossroads in his career. Behind him was the avant-garde experimentalism of Charles Lloyd and Miles Davis, to come were the solo piano recordings and interpretations of standards that he continues with right up to this day. Consequently, this record of a live show at New York's legendary Village Vanguard features aspects of all of these musics, and more.

Jarrett had been playing with Haden and Motian for several years prior to this date and would carry on in their company in his 1970s recordings for the ECM record label. Redman was a relative newcomer to the group, bringing a touch of free-jazz experimentation to their advanced post-bop sound - a little like Pharoah Sanders without the squawking. Haden has long been one of my favourite bass players although this isn't one of his best efforts - sure his playing is solid, but he pales a little in comparison with Jarrett. And Motian ties it all together - letting the group out on a polyrhythmic leash before pulling them tight into a groove - just listen to the sudden appearance of a steady rhythm half-way through 'Fort Yawuh', or the groove he imposes on 'De Drums'.

Towering over them all, though, is Jarrett. Part of the reason for his continued popularity is his virtuosity - indeed it would be hard to think how his solo recordings would sound if he were not a technical genius on the piano. Opener '(If The) Misfits (Wear It)' kicks off with a fearsome piano riff that is a showcase for his talent, whilst being at once melodic and percussive. Jarrett on this album sometimes sounds like a one man band, leaving very so little space for his fellow musicians that they simply lay out and let him get on with it. It's this intensity that makes listening to the LP so enjoyable - it's also warmer and more human than the cold austerity of some of his ECM recordings of the period. Whether this is due to Jarrett himself or his choice of sidemen is anyone's guess. His experimental side certainly comes out; 'Fort Yawuh's introduction with it's plucked piano strings is a fine example.

Jarrett recorded several more albums for impulse! before splitting this group in 1977. Some of these recordings are still available from impulse! as part of two boxed sets, which fortunately include all of the music on this superlative album.

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