Friday, August 14, 2009

Keith Jarrett @ the Blue Note

I think I might be able to pinpoint the moment I really fell in love with jazz. I was living in Southern California, going to grad school in government. At that time I worked in the Claremont Colleges Library, backing up the libraries records every night. The hard drives in our computer room were the size of small washing machines, and they were always on spin cycle. Anyway, when I drove home I always listened to the local jazz station, hosted by the great DJ Chuck Niles.

One night, as I was parking in front of my apartment garage, Niles put on a number entitled "Close Your Eyes." It was off an album called Bean Bags. Bean was Coleman Hawkins. Bags was Milt Jackson. I listened to that song as I sat there, transfixed by the beauty of it. When I got out of the car, bop was written into my soul.

This week I acquired a 1994 box set, Keith Jarrett at the Blue Note: the Complete Recordings. It's a marvelous production. Two sets per night over three nights, on six CDs. Jarrett's trio includes Gary Peacock on bass, and Jack DeJohnette on drums. The material is all standards, including 'Close Your Eyes.' Any doubt about Jarrett's authenticity is instantly removed by listening to this recording. A lot of the standards are solid bits of bop history, including such gems as 'Oleo,' and 'If I were a Bell,' made famous by Miles.

It is also a magnificent document. A great trio doing great music over three nights, all of it on record. If this ain't jazz, I ain't got finger prints. Listening to it, I can't detect any cliches or compromises. Jarrett pours forth a steady stream of genius from beginning to end.

The box is pricey, but it's cheaper than building a time machine and buying tickets.

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