Reviews that mention Keith Jarrett

February 11, 2016

Paul Bley

A Modern Jazz Piano Master
By Ken Waxman

Paul Bley who died at 83 in early January was probably never bothered that he was usually described as Canada’s second best-known jazz pianist; Oscar Peterson was the first. But Bley, who shared a Montreal birth with Peterson, and who similarly was honored with induction into the Order of Canada in 2008 – albeit 30 plus years after Peterson – was for all intents and purposes a much more radical pianist than O.P. Peterson, seven years Bley’s senior, was a flamboyant stylist who adapted Art Tatum’s all-encompassing swing era techniques to the structure of modern jazz during an almost incalculable number of performances from the late 1940s until his death in 2007. However Bley, represented on more than 100 discs during his career, cycled through a variety of keyboard strategies from the outgoing to the cerebral, eventually matching the atonality of off-centre techniques with straightforward, melodically measured motion. He was also one of the first serious improvisers to deal with the sonic possibilities that could be extracted from the then brand-new portable Moog synthesizer. Later, such better-known pianists as Keith Jarrett, The Bad Plus’ Ethan Iverson and Satoko Fujii developed their playing following the examples of Bley’s breakthroughs. MORE

November 16, 2015

In Print

Jazz Debates/Jazz Debatten /Wolfram Knauer (editor)
Darmstadt Studies in Jazz Research

By Ken Waxman

An ongoing conference that has taken place every second year since 1989, the Darmstadt (Germany) Jazz Forum gathers scholars from Europe and the US to discuss aspects of the current jazz scene. Jazz Debates/Jazz Debatten gathers 10 talks in English and German from the most recent (2013) conference, where the participants deal with the place of jazz in musical culture, touching on aspects of race, nationality, gender, acceptance and even definitions of the word itself.

The English abstracts of the German language debates seem parochial to the international reader since they deal with perceptions of jazz and in-fighting among critics and gate keepers in post-war and present-day Germany. More substantive arguments are advanced in the English talks, but not always. Peter Elsdon’s “The Potential of the Jazz Record”, for instance, is an essay on Keith Jarrett’s Köln Concert record and its reputation as prototypical new age music and its use for relaxation and in retirement residences. MORE

September 11, 2014

Keith Jarrett/Charlie Haden

Last Dance
ECM 2399

By Ken Waxman

Prescient by happenstance, Last Dance had just been released when double bassist Charlie Haden died from the effects of post-polio syndrome at 76 on July 11. Actually recorded in 2007, this nine-track recital, featuring Haden’s and pianist Keith Jarrett’s reimaging of jazz and American songbook classics, demonstrates only one aspect of the bass master’s skills. His evolutionary recasting of his instrument’s role in the music, defined during his membership in Ornette Coleman’s barrier-breaking quartet, and his political commitment, expressed by his leadership of the aptly named Liberation Music Orchestra can be researched elsewhere. MORE