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Keith Jarrett - The Köln Concert (Live at the Opera, Köln, 1975)

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The Köln Concert (Live at the Opera, Köln, 1975)

Keith Jarrett

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Like the Mona Lisa for the Louvre, Keith Jarrett's Köln Concert is a showcase for ECM. With 4 million copies sold, it is not only the biggest success in the label's history but also the best-selling piano solo album! And many of those who bought this live recording, recorded on January 24, 1975 in the Cologne Opera House, did not yet own a jazz album in their record collection. Yet the world phenomenon had the most unfavourable conditions that evening. The American pianist was exhausted from a long car journey, had back pain and found another cheap grand piano on stage instead of the Bösendorfer he had ordered. "I think Keith played so well precisely because of this mediocre piano," said producer Manfred Eicher later. "Because he couldn't fall in love with the sound of this instrument, he adjusted his playing accordingly in order to make the best out of it in spite of everything." But what remains, beyond the anecdotes and records, of what the 1400 listeners heard that evening? Jarrett was 30 years old at the time and had already had a successful career with 15 records and two formative experiences in the bands of Charles Lloyd and especially Miles Davis. By 1975 he had already developed a very personal style of expression. Although Bill Evans' influence is unmistakable, his improvisations were unique, as this Cologne Concert proves. Lyrical and meditative elements are interwoven. Jarrett emphasizes the permeability of the genres by nourishing his jazz (is it jazz at all?) with elements from classical music, gospel, folk or certain Latin American musical styles. Notes gush out of his piano like a torrent and sing an ode to improvisation. In 1992, he told Der Spiegel that over time the Köln Concert had become a kind of film music. "We must learn to forget music," he added. "Otherwise we will become addicted to the past."

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The Köln Concert (Live at the Opera, Köln, 1975)

Keith Jarrett

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1
Köln, January 24, 1975, Pt. I
00:26:01

Keith Jarrett, Composer, Piano - Manfred Eicher, Producer - Martin Wieland, Recording Engineer

℗ 1975 ECM Records GmbH, under exclusive license to Universal Music Classics & Jazz - a division of Universal Music GmbH

2
Köln, January 24, 1975, Pt. II A
00:14:54

Keith Jarrett, Composer, Piano - Manfred Eicher, Producer - Martin Wieland, Recording Engineer

℗ 1975 ECM Records GmbH, under exclusive license to Universal Music Classics & Jazz - a division of Universal Music GmbH

3
Köln, January 24, 1975, Pt. II B
00:18:14

Keith Jarrett, Composer, Piano - Manfred Eicher, Producer - Martin Wieland, Recording Engineer

℗ 1975 ECM Records GmbH, under exclusive license to Universal Music Classics & Jazz - a division of Universal Music GmbH

4
Köln, January 24, 1975, Pt. II C
00:06:56

Keith Jarrett, Composer, Piano - Manfred Eicher, Producer - Martin Wieland, Recording Engineer

℗ 1975 ECM Records GmbH, under exclusive license to Universal Music Classics & Jazz - a division of Universal Music GmbH

Album Description

Like the Mona Lisa for the Louvre, Keith Jarrett's Köln Concert is a showcase for ECM. With 4 million copies sold, it is not only the biggest success in the label's history but also the best-selling piano solo album! And many of those who bought this live recording, recorded on January 24, 1975 in the Cologne Opera House, did not yet own a jazz album in their record collection. Yet the world phenomenon had the most unfavourable conditions that evening. The American pianist was exhausted from a long car journey, had back pain and found another cheap grand piano on stage instead of the Bösendorfer he had ordered. "I think Keith played so well precisely because of this mediocre piano," said producer Manfred Eicher later. "Because he couldn't fall in love with the sound of this instrument, he adjusted his playing accordingly in order to make the best out of it in spite of everything." But what remains, beyond the anecdotes and records, of what the 1400 listeners heard that evening? Jarrett was 30 years old at the time and had already had a successful career with 15 records and two formative experiences in the bands of Charles Lloyd and especially Miles Davis. By 1975 he had already developed a very personal style of expression. Although Bill Evans' influence is unmistakable, his improvisations were unique, as this Cologne Concert proves. Lyrical and meditative elements are interwoven. Jarrett emphasizes the permeability of the genres by nourishing his jazz (is it jazz at all?) with elements from classical music, gospel, folk or certain Latin American musical styles. Notes gush out of his piano like a torrent and sing an ode to improvisation. In 1992, he told Der Spiegel that over time the Köln Concert had become a kind of film music. "We must learn to forget music," he added. "Otherwise we will become addicted to the past."

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At the start of his busy career Keith Jarrett spent seven years carrying out all manner of crazy experiments with his American Quartet. Between the years of 1971 and 1976, the pianist, alongside Charlie Haden, Paul Motian and Dewey Redman ran some kind of mad laboratory in which the genres of hard bop, free-jazz, world and avant-garde would all come together. A spontaneous and interesting time worth rediscovering.

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