Keith Jarrett: La Fenice review – dazzling spontaneity from 2006


Improvisation seems an inadequate word to describe what Keith Jarrett does, alone at a piano for an hour and a half. He begins by sitting motionless for a few moments, apparently to empty his mind of stray thoughts, and then starts playing. What emerges can be exciting, moving, puzzling, fierce, tender – all of these and more. The audience, as his early biographer, Ian Carr, observed, is “witnessing the act of creation”. This time it was at the Gran Teatro La Fenice, Venice, in 2006. (Jarrett has an archive of these recordings and brings them out in his own good time.)

The opening section of this spontaneous, eight-part work is quite heavy going, dense and dissonant, but then come playful, catchy tunes, moments of deep reflection, romanticism in the grand manner, five minutes in which scraps of melody chase each other around with unbelievable agility, a species of boogie-woogie, and a tune borrowed from The Mikado.

Merely from the technical point of view, Jarrett has to be one of the finest pianists alive, but the breadth of his musical understanding and his power to capture the emotions make him unique.


Dave Gelly

The GuardianTramp

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