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Keith Jarrett: The Melody at Night, With You

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As for those solo recordings with which Jarrett may or may not have spawned New Age music nearly 30 years ago, there is little trace of their expansive, unrestrained spirit in The Melody at Night, With You. If anything, his unaccompanied playing in this collection of standards resembles the reserve of his Mozart performances more than the voluminous meanderings of, say, his Bremen and Lausanne concerts of 1973. The tempos are slow, the surfaces placid, the listening easy. It could serve as background music. Still, Jarrett is Jarret; he stirs blues changes into “I Got it Bad and That Ain’t Good,” makes “Someone to Watch Over Me” a lament leavened by hopeful harmonies and, generally, adds chordal colorings and dynamic shadings that keep the listener’s attention. He doesn’t stray so much as a bar away from the melody of “Be My Love,” of all things, but his left hand keeps the performance interesting for five-and-a-half minutes. He does much the same for “Shenandoah” and “My Wild Irish Rose” (Did John Lewis steal that first bar for “Skating in Central Park?”). The hypnotic three-and-a-half-minute coda Jarrett builds on the final chord of “Blame It on My Youth” is reminiscent of-may have been inspired by-Bill Evans’ “Peace Piece.” This is a lovely album. Jarrett vocaleseaphobes will be happy to know that he utters only one groan. But it’s perfectly placed.