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November 2006

Keith Jarrett
Tokyo Solo 2002

With last year’s Radiance, we heard Keith Jarrett’s Tokyo solo concert of Oct. 27, 2002 in its entirety. The album also included four selections from an Oct. 30 concert, but these came at the end of an already long program. With this DVD, beautifully shot in Tokyo’s Metropolitan Festival Hall, we get the full Oct. 30 performance in context. It was Jarrett’s 150th concert in Japan—ironic when you consider that his 1984 concert film from Tokyo was titled Last Solo (RCA Victor). Incidentally, the contrast between the 1984 and 2002 footage couldn’t be starker: On the former, Jarrett’s physical gyrations and vocal cries are dialed up to 11. By 2002 they’re barely a factor.

Comprised of two multipart extended improvisations and three standards as encores, Tokyo Solo 2002 is seldom less than exquisite. Part 1a, which corresponds to Radiance Part 14, is a sea of nondiatonic harmony moving in and out of tempo. Part 1b (Radiance Part 15) is a dramatic etude that almost begs to be scored for strings. Part 1c, previously unreleased, finds Jarrett unspooling dense chromaticism for nearly 20 minutes before arriving at a perfect minor-key ballad. The first three movements of Part 2 are previously unreleased; 2d and 2e correspond to Radiance Parts 16 and 17, respectively, although 2d was significantly truncated for the CD. On the DVD it stretches to a glorious eight minutes.

Jarrett’s technical mastery is evident enough through audio; here the camera angles heighten the impact. There are moments of pantonal abstraction worthy of Stravinsky, but we’re also reminded of the pianist’s poignant lyricism—a melodic gift all the more remarkable for its spontaneity. When Jarrett ruminates on “Danny Boy,” “Old Man River” and “Don’t Worry ’Bout Me,” his limpid chords-within-chords seem to flow from the same unscripted source.

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