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Keith Jarrett: Alone in a Crowded Room

A newly released archival box set offers fresh insight into the spontaneous genius of Keith Jarrett

Keith Jarrett (photo by Sánta István Csaba)
Keith Jarrett (photo by Sánta István Csaba)
Jarrett with ECM Records staff, including, to his right, label founder Manfred Eicher, at the 2014 NEA ceremony (photo by Alan Nahigian) ceremony (photo by Alan Nahigian)
Jarrett with ECM Records staff, including, to his right, label founder Manfred Eicher, at the 2014 NEA ceremony (photo by Alan Nahigian)
Jarrett’s now-disbanded “Standards Trio,” with Jack DeJohnette and Gary Peacock (from left), in 2010 (photo by Daniela Yohannes/ECM Records)
Jarrett’s now-disbanded “Standards Trio,” with Jack DeJohnette and Gary Peacock (from left), in 2010 (photo by Daniela Yohannes/ECM Records)
At Jazz at Lincoln Center in January 2014, Jarrett accepts his NEA Jazz Master Award (photo by Michael G. Stewart/NEA)
At Jazz at Lincoln Center in January 2014, Jarrett accepts his NEA Jazz Master Award (photo by Michael G. Stewart/NEA)
Jarrett onstage in Japan in October 2002. By this time, his solo improvisations had developed into more concise melodic inventions. (photo by Junichi Hirayama/ECM Records)
Jarrett onstage in Japan in October 2002. By this time, his solo improvisations had developed into more concise melodic inventions. (photo by Junichi Hirayama/ECM Records)

Keith Jarrett has garnered a rare cult of close listeners over his more than 40 years of improvised solo piano concerts: connoisseurs of his sound, devoted mavens of his style, list-making fanatics, discerning experts, even the odd astute critic. None of these people, it’s fair to say, has better insight into Jarrett’s solo music than the pianist himself.

This is one reason to take special note of A Multitude of Angels, a collection of archival solo performances recorded over a single week in 1996, during a tour of opera houses and small halls in Italy. Each concert—in Modena, Ferrara, Turin and Genoa—takes up a single disc in the set and features the rhapsodic, long-form improvisations that Jarrett introduced back in 1975, with his best-selling album The Köln Concert.

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