Keith Jarrett: Bordeaux Concert review | John Fordham's jazz album of the month

(ECM)
The master of solo-piano improvisation proved his spontaneous alchemy was as mesmerising as ever in this 2016 performance

In 1975, an idiosyncratic musical odyssey called The Köln Concert became the unlikeliest of multimillion-sellers. On that album, Keith Jarrett revealed how an unplanned, unplugged and uncommercial private meditation between just him and a traditional piano could mesmerise listeners all over the world. Jarrett has also played plenty of classical music and ensemble jazz with stars including Miles Davis and Charles Lloyd. But he has fearlessly cherished the no-hiding-place art of solo-piano improvisation, as witnessed by live albums including 2006’s Carnegie Hall Concert, 2011’s Rio and, of course, that 1975 opus. In 2018, two successive strokes ruthlessly halted that spontaneous alchemy, which makes this final Jarrett solo performance, recorded in July 2016, something special.

Bordeaux Concert album cover.
Bordeaux Concert album cover. Photograph: ECM Records

Jarrett, definitely not known to be a schmoozer, reportedly complimented the Bordeaux crowd on how receptive it was, and rightly so. They patiently but expectantly clap for the long, probing opener’s darting free-improv fragments, glittery treble tinklings and wistful chords, as Jarrett gets the feel of the instrument and the room. When a slowly rocking gospel hook emerges in Part III, whistles and yelps break out, and when the frenziedly-spinning minimalist loops of Part V stop dead, the audience erupts. In the end, everything from the softest improvised ballads to the most exuberantly hard-stomping blues draw grateful accolades – the sound of an audience’s thanks for a one-off music that belonged only to their presence with Jarrett, in that space, on that unique evening.

Also out this month

In These Times (International Anthem/Nonesuch/XL), is a landmark multi-genre fusion seven years in the making from acclaimed Chicago drummer/producer Makaya McCraven. Jazz, hip-hop, east European folk music, classical strings, spoken word and McCraven’s own calm intensity at the drums intertwine in these imaginative rearrangements of studio and live takes. The Bad Plus (Edition Records) features classy new recruits to the long-running band in saxophonist Chris Speed and guitarist Ben Monder – the latter a collaborator on David Bowie’s Blackstar – joining originals Reid Anderson (bass) and Dave King (drums) on a quirky, still unmistakably Bad Plus tracklist.

The unstoppably funky Snarky Puppy unleash Empire Central (Groundup Music), reconnecting in Dallas with their blues, prog, R&B and jazzily devious roots, while the UK’s R&B-steeped young jazz generation release new takes on classic Blue Note hits with Blue Note Re:imagined II (Blue Note Records). The sensuous delicacy of Cherise’s cover of Norah Jones’s Sunrise and Sons of Kemet tubist Theon Cross’s skiddy, graunching account of Thelonious Monk’s Epistrophy are two diametrically contrasting delights.

Contributor

John Fordham

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Esbjörn Svensson: HOME.S. review | John Fordham's jazz album of the month
This recently discovered piano meditation from the modest maestro behind the Esbjörn Svensson Trio will entrance fans and fascinate newcomers

John Fordham

25, Nov, 2022 @8:30 AM

Article image
Celebrating Mingus 100 review | John Fordham's jazz album of the month
Played by a classy nonet at Berlin’s Philharmonie hall, at its best this set of Charles Mingus material is full of the exultant, forward-charging energy of its composer

John Fordham

08, Jul, 2022 @7:30 AM

Article image
Jeremy Pelt: Griot – This Is Important! review – a jazz album for everyone
Storytelling trumpeter Pelt boldly crosses genres and ages with agile contemporary bop, ballads and spoken word passages

John Fordham

26, Feb, 2021 @9:00 AM

Article image
Brad Mehldau: Jacob’s Ladder review – prog rock and Bible stories make for unique, ingenious jazz
The pianist draws on an unlikely combination of childhood obsessions for this hard-hitting, audacious electronic hybrid

John Fordham

18, Mar, 2022 @8:30 AM

Article image
Art Ensemble of Chicago: The Sixth Decade From Paris to Paris review | John Fordham's jazz album of the month
A live set celebrating the group’s 50th anniversary loops in a 20-piece orchestra, rousing poetry and new improvisers among the hardcore veterans

John Fordham

27, Jan, 2023 @9:00 AM

Article image
Julie Sassoon Quartet: Voyages review | John Fordham's jazz album of the month
The pianist and her long-running quartet’s buzzing and lucidly eloquent set mirrors lockdown’s swerves between isolation and longing

John Fordham

21, Jan, 2022 @9:00 AM

Article image
Avishai Cohen Trio: Shifting Sands review | John Fordham's jazz album of the month
With Elchin Shirinov on keys and 21-year-old sensation Roni Kaspi on drums, Cohen delivers a stark, superb set

John Fordham

10, Jun, 2022 @8:00 AM

Article image
Avishai Cohen: Naked Truth review | John Fordham's jazz album of the month
An evocative mini album performed by band members who never lose their individuality is beautifully executed

John Fordham

18, Feb, 2022 @9:00 AM

Article image
Joshua Redman Quartet: LongGone review | John Fordham's jazz album of the month
Individual success has only served to sharpen their intuition, as the jazz foursome return with a set that ranges across slinky blues and jamming gospel

John Fordham

02, Sep, 2022 @7:30 AM

Article image
Charles Lloyd Trios: Ocean review | John Fordham's jazz album of the month
Devotion to jazz’s roots fill the latest album from the veteran saxophonist and flautist, which at times seems an almost private interchange

John Fordham

05, Aug, 2022 @8:00 AM