Keith Jarrett: Sleeper – review


This enthralling double album is a previously unreleased concert set from Tokyo in 1979 and features Keith Jarrett's "European quartet" of Jan Garbarek on saxes and flute, fellow Norwegian Jon Christensen on drums and Swedish bassist Palle Danielsson. The band made their last studio album, Belonging, on the same trip – this one covers many of the same vivid Jarrett originals, and is the better set. But you don't need to know that history to hear the band's exuberance over Jarrett's teasing yet hard-rocking vamps, Garbarek's brusque power and the rhythm section's energy and freedom. Personal Mountains is a 20-minute tour de force of shifting harmonies and chord-punching Latin grooving. Innocence drifts in freefall until it becomes a softly swaying love song. So Tender has the shape of a standard ballad (audibly not to Garbarek's liking) but then loosens. Oasis sounds like an Ornette Coleman lament, and New Dance is probably as close as any of these performers came to playing a mainstream jazz-calypso like Sonny Rollins' famous version of Don't Stop the Carnival. There's lots of free-improv, too, but the range of this remarkable group played a big part in its enduring influence on contemporary jazz.


John Fordham

The GuardianTramp

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