Keith Jarrett: La Scala

One of those names sure to inspire lively-and often heated-discussion in the jazz community belongs to Keith Jarrett.

This recital of solo improvisations, recorded at the renowned La Scala opera house in Milan, comes nearly 25 years after his first offering. Much remains the same: Jarrett’s sense of drama and musical contrast is still acute, and his pianism remarkable. That said, these pieces show less range than his finest work, more limited motivic evolution, fewer moments of ecstatic invention over a pulsing gospel ostinato. The second piece (of two) works from a gripping, percussive free-form exploration, but can’t quite sustain that energy level as it develops. But dessert is worth the wait: Jarrett’s encore is a luminous, transcendent arrangement of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”