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mjzee

Keith Jarrett: A One-of-a-Kind Artist Prepares for His Solo

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I don't know, sounds to me a little like Sun Ra. Here's a quote from the Ra-staman: "People have two harps in their head, their ears, just like a harp. They hear by the strings in their ears. If I play something very strange, then some strings that never vibrated before will vibrate. The whole nervous system will become alive."

Yes, Keith and Ra were hardly unique in the 60s/70s in that sort of talk (I blame cheap paperbacks of Sanskrit texts and the like). They clearly believed that they were part of whatever master plan the creator had. Now where are those Alice Coltrane records....

Any rock fan who enjoyed Yes albums in the early 70s and, more to the point, was convinced that Jon Anderson's lyrics held a key to the universe was a natural for Jarrett's philosophising. Would certainly have been far more appealling to the spirtual seeker in '76 than Johnny Rotten's!

Even Frank Zappa got into the act. Didn't he have a philosophy that people, and maybe the universe, are made of strings?

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We musn't forget Davadip and Mahavishnu.

You'd have thought the latter, as a plain speaking Yorkshireman, would have been immune. But then Anderson is a Northerner (from't other't side 't'Pennines) too. Whippets and cloth caps are clearly no talisman against the forces of The Beyond!

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I don't know, sounds to me a little like Sun Ra. Here's a quote from the Ra-staman: "People have two harps in their head, their ears, just like a harp. They hear by the strings in their ears. If I play something very strange, then some strings that never vibrated before will vibrate. The whole nervous system will become alive."

Yes, Keith and Ra were hardly unique in the 60s/70s in that sort of talk (I blame cheap paperbacks of Sanskrit texts and the like). They clearly believed that they were part of whatever master plan the creator had. Now where are those Alice Coltrane records....

don't know... imho ra is a hundred times better at placing words than this jarrett quote (leaving the messages aside)... also his album titles "nubians of plutonia" and the like aren't mereley sanskrit adaptions... maybe better than all jazz musicians of that time... (ornette coleman is pretty good as well, of course)

besides, assuming i want to buy just one jarrett record (which is actually the case, you guys got me curious) from the ones popping up around here cheaply... which is a good place to start? fort yawuh, standards live, bye bye blackbird, facing you[, gnu high]...? or none of those... ?

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Try this one:

0000178884_350.jpg

There are in my opinion DIFFERENT Jarretts. . . this is one of those that show my favorite Jarrett.

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Ra actually reached into Western esoteric philosophy and mysticism, especially that from Egypt. And peppered it with pulp science fiction spice.

It's okay for me until you hear him preaching it. . . then to ME (others have different reactions) it seems loudly BS.

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There are in my opinion DIFFERENT Jarretts. . .

Very true.

My recommendations:

Solo: 'Facing You' (relatively short tracks) or 'Bremen-Lausanne' (if you want the full extended treatment).

American Quartet: I particularly like 'The Survivors' Suite'; but any of the Impulse albums has a nice mix of his lyrical and more Ornettian side.

European Quartet: 'My Song' Jarrett at his most lyrical and melodic.

Standards Trio: I suspect you can drop in anywhere and get the jist of this phase. I particularly like 'Tokyo '96'

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It's not an unsound principal, this "life = vibration" thing. I mean, it's true. Everything vibrates, if only at the atomic/subatomic level. So I don't blame people for trying, such as it is.

Where things get off, imo, is when people confuse recognition with understanding, and then understanding with power, and then power with the ability to impose concrete reordering onto a level that nobody can actually know other than abstractly.

It might be possible, but the evidence to this point suggest that...uh...there is still much that needs be learned if it is.

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I don't know, sounds to me a little like Sun Ra. Here's a quote from the Ra-staman: "People have two harps in their head, their ears, just like a harp. They hear by the strings in their ears. If I play something very strange, then some strings that never vibrated before will vibrate. The whole nervous system will become alive."

Yes, Keith and Ra were hardly unique in the 60s/70s in that sort of talk (I blame cheap paperbacks of Sanskrit texts and the like). They clearly believed that they were part of whatever master plan the creator had. Now where are those Alice Coltrane records....

Any rock fan who enjoyed Yes albums in the early 70s and, more to the point, was convinced that Jon Anderson's lyrics held a key to the universe was a natural for Jarrett's philosophising. Would certainly have been far more appealling to the spirtual seeker in '76 than Johnny Rotten's!

Even Frank Zappa got into the act. Didn't he have a philosophy that people, and maybe the universe, are made of strings?

from wiki: String Theory is a developing branch of theoretical physics that combines quantum mechanics and general relativity into a quantum theory of gravity.

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All I know is the big baby was/is into Sufism and Gurdjieff.

He shouldn't be confused with Sun Ra.

dB

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All I know is the big baby was/is into Sufism and Gurdjieff.

He shouldn't be confused with Sun Ra.

dB

And one of his recordings to avoid at all costs is the Gurdjieff!

As far as recommendations go, my favorite of the American quartet has always been Fort Yawuh with Treasure Island a close runner-up. When I'm in the right mood, The Koln Concert is still my pick for solo Jarrett.

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All I know is the big baby was/is into Sufism and Gurdjieff.

He shouldn't be confused with Sun Ra.

dB

And one of his recordings to avoid at all costs is the Gurdjieff!

I've heard that before, but he's just the performer. And while there are other recordings, that may be the only one of those pieces. I have a couple of them, I happen to like them.

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All I know is the big baby was/is into Sufism and Gurdjieff.

dB

Oh and....he's still angry after all that spiritual "development".

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I don't know, sounds to me a little like Sun Ra. Here's a quote from the Ra-staman: "People have two harps in their head, their ears, just like a harp. They hear by the strings in their ears. If I play something very strange, then some strings that never vibrated before will vibrate. The whole nervous system will become alive."

Yes, Keith and Ra were hardly unique in the 60s/70s in that sort of talk (I blame cheap paperbacks of Sanskrit texts and the like). They clearly believed that they were part of whatever master plan the creator had. Now where are those Alice Coltrane records....

Any rock fan who enjoyed Yes albums in the early 70s and, more to the point, was convinced that Jon Anderson's lyrics held a key to the universe was a natural for Jarrett's philosophising. Would certainly have been far more appealling to the spirtual seeker in '76 than Johnny Rotten's!

Even Frank Zappa got into the act. Didn't he have a philosophy that people, and maybe the universe, are made of strings?

You may be referring to these spoken lyrics from Zappa's "Lumpy Gravy". I am not sure that they represent his sincere personal beliefs:

"Ronnie Williams: Buh-bah-bahdn

Spider: Oh!

John: There it went again..

Spider: It's a little pig . . . with wings

Pig With Wings: EE . . .

Gross Man: I hear you've been having trouble with pigs and ponies!

Left channel:

Calvin: To . . . just the opposite . . . going around to the other direction

Right channel:

Calvin: How 'bout us, don't we get any?

Gail: We don't get any . . .

Calvin: That's very distraughtening

Gail: We don't get any because we're otherwise

Spider: Everything in the universe is . . . is . . . is made of one element, which is a note, a single note. Atoms are really vibrations, you know, which are extensions of THE BIG NOTE, everything's one note. Everything, even the ponies. The note, however, is the ultimate power, but see, the pigs don't know that, the ponies don't know that. Right?

Monica: You mean just we know that?

Spider: Right!

Spider: "Merry Go Round! Merry Go Round! Do-Do-Do-Do Do-Do-Do Do-Do-Do!" and they called that "doing their thing."

John: Oh yeah, that's what doing your thing is!

Spider: The thing is to put a motor in yourself.

******

Spider: I think I can explain about . . . about how the pigs' music works

Monica: Well, this should be interesting

Spider: Remember that they make music with a very dense light, and remember about the smoke standing still and how they . . . they really get uptight when you try to move the smoke, right?

Monica: Right

John: Yeah?

Spider: I think the music in that dense light is probably what makes the smoke stand still. Any sort of motion has this effect on . . . on the ponies' manes. You know, the thing on their neck

John: Hmm . . .

Spider: As soon as the pony's mane starts to get good in the back any sort of mo . . . motion, especially of smoke or gas, begins to make the ends split.

John: That's the basis of all their nationalism. Like if they can't salute the smoke every morning when they get up . . .

Spider: Yeah, it's a vicious circle. You got it."

Edited by Hot Ptah

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I've intentionally stayed out of all this so far, but the recommendation angle forces the issue a bit. So without getting into the parsing, philosophy or any of the rest of it that any Jarrett discussion compels, let me say that the best of the Standards Trio is desert island music for me (or damn close, depending on how much I get to schlepp to the island). But I don't think you can just drop the needle on any of the records. There's definitely a top tier of inspiration and execution and it includes, to my ears, "Standards Vol 2," "Standards Live," "More Live," "The Cure" and, maybe, from the later years "Whisper Not." If pressed for just one, however, it would be "Standards Live" without question.

Edited by Mark Stryker

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Even Frank Zappa got into the act. Didn't he have a philosophy that people, and maybe the universe, are made of strings?

I think that Zappa thought that people were attached to strings and that he was the puppeteer.

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I don't know, sounds to me a little like Sun Ra. Here's a quote from the Ra-staman: "People have two harps in their head, their ears, just like a harp. They hear by the strings in their ears. If I play something very strange, then some strings that never vibrated before will vibrate. The whole nervous system will become alive."

Well nobody, not even me, ever said that Sun Ra wasn't occassionally full of shit either. :g

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I don't know, sounds to me a little like Sun Ra. Here's a quote from the Ra-staman: "People have two harps in their head, their ears, just like a harp. They hear by the strings in their ears. If I play something very strange, then some strings that never vibrated before will vibrate. The whole nervous system will become alive."

Well nobody, not even me, ever said that Sun Ra wasn't occassionally full of shit either. :g

Ah...but did Sun Ra or Zappa treat his audience like shit? :lol:

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I must confess that I don't understand the strong emotional reactions which Jarrett produces here. I find some of his albums quite good, some pleasant enough but not that memorable, and some not very enjoyable. I have the same thoughts about the recorded output of Ahmad Jamal. I listen to the Jarrett I like, and do not play the ones I find less enjoyable--just like Jamal.

I saw Les McCann really abuse an audience once, yelling out that we were a "sad ass town" and making very crude remarks from the stage directed at specific women in the audience. Apart from the abuse directed at the women themselves, there were many small children clearly visible in the crowd at this outdoor festival event. But I do not feel seething rage every time I pick up a Les McCann album. or read his name.

So why do some of you get so angry about Jarrett? What is there about him that produces such bitterness? I don't get it.

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Ok, previous comments about having murderous thoughts to the contrary, I'm not one generally to "get angry" with/about Jarrett, but I can say that what "bothers" me about him - sometimes - is the narcissism. The guy has so much real talent, deep talent, that it's a drag for anything to interfere with that. And interfere it does, when he gets out of his deepest zone and into that "look at me, ain't this (i.e. -me) BEAUTIFUL!" zones. sometimes there's just a touch of it, sometimes there's a whole lot of it. And no, not everybody hears it like that. But a lot of people do (and just as many, I suspect, don't hear it, but project it, due to Jarrett's well-documented pissiness). But I do hear it, have heard it since I first started listening to him (mid-70s, Atlantic & Impulse! sides, soon after the early ECMs). It just makes me feel....betrayed, cheated. I mean, ok, yeah, everybody falls short sometimes, lots even. And yeah, lots of people are quirky, some very much quirky. and maybe Jarrett's best moments really are the triumph that he's after. Maybe the struggle he so wants us to see him having is the struggle, not to transcend the here and now & fly into the arms of The Eternal Muse, maybe it's a lot more simple than that, maybe it's just the struggle to get rid of his own neuroses and let himself flow unhindered by them.

Well, ok, if that's what it is, that's what it is. And the best of his work is as good as it can get, so if that's what it takes to get there, go ahead and go there, right? It's just that Jarrett's neuroses are not (or do not seem to be) particularly "adult" in nature. As I've said earlier, there's very much the air of the "wounded child" about him and to my eyes, that's how his various "misbehaviors" and "quirks" play out - as not quite adult. Now, when he's in that top zone, his music is super-adult. But when it's not....

I've been around a lot of "quirky" and "wounded" souls (musicians and otherwise) over the years. Most of them I can deal with, make allowances for, etc., especially if the pain is worth the gain, musically or otherwise. But the one thing that turns me off faster than anything in anybody, is the "whiny boy" (or girl), the ones who, without the trigger of a genuine chemical imbalance, just refuse to accept that ok, yeah, sometimes life ain't perfect, sometimes it actually sucks and ain't a damn thing you can do about it except keep going. Bitch all you want to along the way, just keep moving, goddam it. It's the ones who want to stop moving and throw a tantrum, like a kid in a grocery store who falls to the floor and refuses to move, that piss me off. Those of us who have grown up (sometimes against all odds and/or with great difficulty) just find that really, really annoying.

Now, I'm not saying that Jarrett brings the "tantrum" to the music. He doesn't, at least not that I've heard. But he does bring the "emotional state" that produces the tantrum, that "arrested development" that says, "I'm wonderful, I'm perfect, LOVE ME!", and the degree to which I like, even love his music is directly proportional to how much of that is not present in it. And it's happened more than often enough for me to still find him worth checking out more than infrequently. But there is baggage sometimes, and I am not a bellhop. That baggage cheats everybody, including, most of all, Jarrett himself, out of some musical brilliance that we all could use. And I've never heard him admit that to anybody, at any place, at any time. Quite the contrary, in fact.

Again, completely subjective, and not everybody hears it that way. But the question was asked, and this is my personal answer.

Edited by JSngry

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A lot of what you say is true. But if he wasn't such a 'child' he wouldn't have produced the music that he has. You take the good with the bad.

My favorite recordings are 'Book of Ways', which I have and am notating for string quartet, and 'Restoration Ruin', where he does his inner Bob Dylan, which should tell you a lot about Keith and where he was/is/wants to be.

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A lot of what you say is true. But if he wasn't such a 'child' he wouldn't have produced the music that he has. You take the good with the bad.

My favorite recordings are 'Book of Ways', which I have and am notating for string quartet, and 'Restoration Ruin', where he does his inner Bob Dylan, which should tell you a lot about Keith and where he was/is/wants to be.

I think this post says everything. :ph34r:

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I think I understand what Jim is saying. . . but I just don't read this sort of thing into or find it coming out of the music. . . .

I think Jarrett is most likely among the most pretentious of living jazz musicians. But i really enjoy his music without an interpolation or intervention of his pretentious, prickly (or to believe a few here, puerile) personality. And I'm happy for that. I've gotten many many hours of enjoyment.

Thanks for the reminder about "Book of Ways." Need to dig that out soon.

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Try this one:

0000178884_350.jpg

There are in my opinion DIFFERENT Jarretts. . . this is one of those that show my favorite Jarrett.

That's the only Keith Jarrett Trio record that I like (and I dislike the others I've heard).

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Jim, I appreciate your response. I don't hear any of what you say when I listen to a variety of Jarrett albums, and I have known the type of whiny adult you describe. To me, Jarrett is more like the Grateful Dead in that when they really jelled and somehow came together in their instrumental passages, it could be really good--but then there were those dull, uneventful passages too, sometimes for a long time. It never struck me that in Jarrett's case, that this was due to a whiny, selfish personality. To me, it was more that he tried to improvise without much structure and the pan did not always shake out with gold in the bottom--sometimes it was just dirty gravel. Still, sometimes there is gold, more often than many other musicians.

Edited by Hot Ptah

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