Keith Jarrett - Ritual - Dennis Russell Davies (1982/2014) High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 24bit/96kHz
Сomposer: Keith Jarrett (b.1945)
Artist: Dennis Russell Davies
Genre: Classical, Avant-Garde, Piano Jazz, Modern Composition
Label: © ECM Records GmbH
Release Date: 1982/2014
Quality: High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 96kHz/24bit
Recorded: June 1977 at Tonstudio Bauer, Ludwigsburg
Ritual is something of an anomaly in the Keith Jarrett archive. It’s a solo album, as many of his best are, only this time it is pianist, conductor, and frequent collaborator Dennis Russell Davies at the keys playing a work penned entirely by Jarrett. The hallmarks of a Jarrett piano recital are all there—the rolling ostinatos, dense arpeggios, and profound doublings—yet are valenced differently under the rubric of “composition.” In this context, we get a sense of “once removed-ness” that might not present itself under improvisational circumstances. The piece’s modest 32 minutes are divided into two immodest parts. From the opening groundswell we get not only dense pockets of energy, but also nodes of emptiness. Put another way: the music’s glorious peaks share the same space as the shadowy valleys at their feet, thereby encompassing a harmonious middle ground. Like a geyser, its eruptions are predictable yet manage to enthrall every time. Despite its claustrophobic beginnings, Part 1 ends in bright solitude, like a room in which the curtain has been slowly opened to welcome the morning sun. Heavier chording marks Part 2, which resolves in a hopeful melancholy, but not before gelling the emotional plasticity of its precursor. This brings us full circle, ending on a solemn intonation of a single note.
Ritual is far more “regulated” than typical Jarrett fare, spun as it is from the surrogacy of another performer rather than through the alchemy of spontaneous creation (though there is, of course, some of each in the other). The results are captivating in their own way, stoked by every depressed key and lifted pedal. Its shapes are drawn not by what is, but what has been and will be. The present is invisible and lives on only as formless possibility, caught like a blown kiss in the cup of one’s hand.
This is a doubly curious two-piece suite that was originally released in 1977. First off, it's the work of a jazz artist being played by a classical pianist and conductor. Secondly, it harks back to a much earlier period in Keith Jarrett's career -- one that few modern fans actually remember -- as a composer. What is not clear is if this work was one of Jarrett's improvised pieces from the era that gave us the Köln Concert, Bremen and Lausanne, etc., and later notated, or if it was originally composed. Though Jarrett's melodic signatures are firmly in place throughout, Davies has little real feel for the forms that inspired the composer: namely, gospel, folk, standards, etc. That said, he does a serviceable -- if more formally disciplined -- job, interpreting the work and keeping the balance of drama, lyricism, dynamic, and a bit of the composer's lithe impressionistic harmonic touch pretty much intact. --AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek
In pianist Keith Jarrett's vast ECM catalogue, albums on which he does not play aren't exactly common, but nor are they completely uncommon; his 1974 double-disc set In the Light features a handful of tracks on which he performs, but its primary focus is on Jarrett the composer. Ditto Luminessence (1975), a trilogy of compositions for string orchestra and improviser Jan Garbarek—a precursor to Arbour Zena (1976), also featuring the Norwegian saxophonist and string orchestra, but also including Jarrett and bassist Charlie Haden as featured performers. That album is part of ECM's Re:solutions series of reissues—seven albums in all so far, four on CD for the first time, one previously only available for a limited time in Japan, and all also available in vinyl and high resolution digital formats. Another Re:solutions entry, Ritual remains a complete anomaly in Jarrett's discography: a composition written for solo piano in which he is not the featured performer.
A two-piece suite broken up more, most likely, to suit the needs of its original vinyl release than anything else, Ritual is unmistakably Jarrett, but it's a whole different experience to hear another pianist perform it—especially one like Davies, who comes largely from the classical world and is perhaps better known as a conductor whose whose work, beyond a 40-year relationship with Jarrett, includes ECM New Series classics like Arvo Pärt's Tabula Rasa (1984) (on which Jarrett performs, coincidentally), as well as the more recent Melodic Warrior (2013), from guitarist/composer Terje Rypdal.
Davies may have little connection to jazz, Americana, gospel and many of the other reference points which create the sum total that is Jarrett, but his performance of Ritual respects the composer's predilection, in this case, for the juxtaposition of touching impressionism and bolder dramaturgy. That this music is, indeed, scored may seem an anomaly for a pianist whose own solo recordings—from 1975's classic The Köln Concert to the overdue 2013 complete release of 1982's Concerts—Bregenz / München and more freshly minted Rio (2013)—are all about in-the-moment drawing of form from the ether. It's easy to forget that Jarrett, in his early days, was a more formal composer of significance for his two 1970s quartets, so it's unknown whether or not Ritual was a solo improvisation that he then scored, or did he actually compose the piece over time, with pen and paper at hand?
Ultimately it matters not, as the melodic disposition that is so often at the heart of everything Jarrett does remains a constant here, and Russell Davies' performance is both confident and assured. His touch may be a tad firmer than Jarrett's in the quieter moments, his attack more vehement in the more dramatic passages, but these are nothing more than the consequences of interpretation.
In the end, Russell Davies best articulates the most important aspects of this brief (just 32 minutes) yet superb recital in his brief notes: "although I could never, in improvisation, begin to assume his qualities as a creative force, Ritual is a vehicle through which I can bring his spirit to the listener. Those who know Keith will hear him in this music—it couldn't have been written by anyone else." --John Kelman, All About Jazz
Keith Jarrett (b.1945)
1. Ritual (Part I) 18:45
2. Ritual (Part II) 13:27
Dennis Russell Davies, piano
You must register before you can view this text. Please register and Login
Would you like to leave your comment? Please Login to your account to leave comments. Don't have an account? You can create a free account now.