Saturday, 19 March 2011

Commission for Keith Jarrett poster

The last time I saw Keith Jarrett, he spent quite a lot of the time looking distracted, and then, as if too annoyed to continue playing (it was a Miles Tribute at the QEH with his Standards Trio) he strode to front of the stage and pleaded with whoever was videotaping the gig – he could see the red camera light – to discontinue, or there was the strong possibility that he might if things carried on this way.

As it turned out, (I remember a nervy hand-wringing attendant gave him the embarrassing news) the object of his ire was a security camera, parked just above the exit, unblinkingly recording Basin Street Blues, Summertime and all of that night, and probably the rows of seats that emptied that evening, and filled up again the next day, and a week later, when the affable and surprisingly scientological Chick Corea made mention of it to an ironic cheer from the audience. Both audiences, I suppose were more or less the same people, coming to hear modern jazz masters at the peak of their powers.
I'm listening to Summertime now, and the appeal is obvious and none the less extraordinary for that. In fact if more people knew of Keith, he'd be even richer, even more of a universal jazz icon.

Somewhere though, in the first stirrings of electric jazz according to Miles, Keith and Chick Corea sit well together in the Davis band with the ecstatic rhythm machine of Jack de Johnette and Dave Holland (with Airto Moreira, on esoteric percussion woodwork, with the easiest job in jazz I used to think, unkindly) and the modest and melodious Gary Bartz is his sax player of that far-off time.

They all radiate confidence and concentration  on the film of the concert ( and bask in the rays of a warm day (and the occasional baleful Miles glare) in 1970 at the Isle of Wight playing to a million rock fans, sprinkling some avant-garde dust in the warm breeze, probably not knowing that history would regard this miraculous moment so highly. but certainly in the knowledge they were creating important, exultant and necessary music. It's fantastic alchemy.

This is good, it's Keith's discovery of that special trance and a beautiful appreciation of the Master.

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