Recorded a year ago, this is Jarrett's 13th solo recording and the latest chapter in a sustained volume of prominence that began in 1971 with Facing You but that was cemented with 1975's The Köln Concert. Although internationally famous because of his solo material, Jarrett was a child prodigy who earned his credentials throughout the '60s, playing with Art Blakey, Charles Lloyd and Miles Davis. His fiery electric keyboard battles with Chick Corea are well documented on Davis' Live/Evil.
Like his other solo recordings, The Carnegie Hall Concert features Jarrett's bold improvisations, marvelous freeform workouts that can be soothing in their repetitiveness or jarring in their cacophony. The first movement has Jarrett challenging his audiences' perception of him. Nearly atonal, the playing is, as always, magnificent but kinetically physical, featuring none of the rhythmic, quasi-gospel overtones that made him so well received outside of jazz. In the second and third portions, however, Jarrett starts to succumb to his natural melodic tendencies, investing his playing with the rolling, bluesy quality that has always been a hallmark of his solo material.
Unfairly criticized in certain circles as somehow not jazz enough, Jarrett continues to explore a singular muse, an unquenchable thirst for deliverance through pattern and release that never ceases to be a fascinating and cathartic listening experience. Although not the first place to begin enjoying Jarrett's talents, this effort does nothing to tarnish his well-deserved veneration.
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