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Guy Berger

AOTW July 25-July 31: Keith Jarrett, Fort Yawuh

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Thanks to John S. for tapping me.

B00001QGOM.01.LZZZZZZZ.jpg

Recorded live at the Village Vanguard, February 24 1973.

Personnel: Keith Jarrett (piano, soprano sax, percussion), Dewey Redman (tenor saxophone, musette, percussion), Charlie Haden (bass), Paul Motian (drums, percussion), Danny Johnson (percussion)

I'm jumping the gun a bit here but thought I'd give people a chance to pick this up before July 25. It's available individually or (with bonus material) on the excellent Impulse Years, 1973-1974 box set.

I'll save my comments on this wonderful, interesting album for next week.

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Great choice, one of my favourite Keith Jarrett albums! Will give it a listen.

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I never picked up "Fort Yawuh" on LP, but an expanded version came on the "Impulse Years, 1973-1974" CD box set. I don't listen to the "Fort Yawuh" material as much as the other recordings in the set. I'll now give it another playing.

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I think most of you have already read my "they never made a record near as good as they were live" rant re Jarret's 'American Quartet', but just for the record (yuk, yuk) that's how I still feel.

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Alright, I'll get things started. This was the second Keith Jarrett album I ever picked up, after the excellent Whisper Not (and some sideman stuff with Miles and C Lloyd). As soon as the spiky vamp that opens "Misfits" started, I was totally sucked in.

I put this album at the halfway point of this band's life. Their early recordings (for Atlantic and Columbia) are a grab-bag of different styles, not always totally well-integrated but also full of enthusiasm. Their later recordings show a greater maturity but less wild eclecticism and more self-conscious "seriousness", culminating in Mysteries, Shades, and The Survivor's Suite.

Fort Yawuh mixes the best of both worlds. In addition, the live setting means you can hear the band stretch out; like some other working groups, these guys were much tamer in the studio. Dewey Redman in particular plays exceptionally well. And though I don't think Shorter or Lacy ever felt seriously threatened, this has some of the best soprano playing of Jarrett's career.

Onto the individual tracks. "Misfits" showcases Jarrett debt to Ornette both as a composer and an improviser. The opening vamp sets up Keith and Dewey's solos are great, as is Paul Motian's free drumming underneath. At the end, Keith comes in on soprano and there's a nice bit of collective improv between him and Dewey.

"Fort Yawuh" has a mysterious introduction with Keith plucking the piano strings, then a Coltrane-ish theme statement. Jarrett solos over a vamp, then Dewey comes in with an excellent solo on his musette.

"De Drums" is the weak link on this album. The outer sections have a nice rock-ish groove and the middle part swings along nicely, but I think unlike the other performances on this disc this one never catches fire.

"Still Life, Still Life" starts out as a solo Jarrett improv. It's a nice example of Keith's ability to merge lyrical and abstract playing. The Evans and Bley sides of his personality. I love it when Dewey Redman enters near the end of this performance (which unfortunately fades out!).

"Roads Travelled, Roads Veiled" is maybe the most powerful performance on this CD. It opens up with a stunning Jarrett solo introduction before moving into the dramatic Coltrane-ish theme. Then there are two terrific reed solos, first by Jarrett on soprano and then by Dewey on clarinet (!!!), both with a distinct Middle-Eastern or North African flavor. Jarrett then returns for a piano solo. Haden's solo rambles a bit, but other than that I think this is the highlight of the album.

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Well said Guy,

I don't think I could add anything to your comments except that I am a big fan of this record too and have been for 30 years.

It amazes me how fresh and wonderful this record sounds today.

Yes, the so-called "American Quartet" is more out than the so-called "European Quartet" but I enjoyed them both.

Some of the best jazz of the 1970's.

I saw this band live just a couple of years after this recording and this record is a good approximation to me of how they sounded.

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I actually like De Drums a lot, more than some of the other material. Yes, it's the most "accessible," but I like that and love it's place on the album.

Some of the sax excursions, with the harsh tone and squeaking on the first couple of tracks puts me off, but the rhythm section always keeps it interesting.

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I bought all the Jarrett American and European Quartet albums when they first came out but sold them all a few years later. I guess I must have overdosed on Jarrett to such an extent that I ignored the standards trio for about ten years but now they are among my favourite groups

I was able to borrow the double cd version of "Fort Yawuh" and hearing it again now for the first time in about twenty years I think I probably made the right decision not to keep the originals. Jarrett plays very well, better than I remember, as do Motian and Haden but I'll confess not to be too keen on Redman's playing and Danny Johnson is just an irritation.

So overall, nice to hear it again for Jarrett, Haden and Motian but Redman still puts me off. I wont be rushing out to buy the set.

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I prefer Jarrett's recordings for Impulse over his ECM recordings. This quartet was one the best during the 70's and I think the whole set (actually 2 sets) is amazing. I can listen to it again and again.

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I think the mood of Roads Travelled, Roads Veiled is just terrific. I have this on the box, so I'm not sure what is and what isn't bonus material (I don't have it with me right now) but this is one the strongest pieces of the entire set. I'd really like to hear Jarrett play out like this again. I like his comments from the stage too!

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The comments about not liking Dewey R's playing are weird to me -- while I love the rest of the group's playing, this music would be a lot less interesting without Dewey.

Guy

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The comments about not liking Dewey R's playing are weird to me -- while I love the rest of the group's playing, this music would be a lot less interesting without Dewey.

Fully agreed! Redman was in top form during those years, and made Jarrett's excursion into Colemanisms credible.

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Really loving this magical music again, 16 years later.

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