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Hamburg ’72: Impressions from producer Manfred Eicher

By Barry Moore |

Manfred Eicher gives Qobuz an exclusive insight into the concert recorded in Hamburg 42 years ago, providing a context to the live album's release.

1972 was another time, another world. The action takes place in a Germany that was still divided by the wall, when the Baader Meinhof Gang was making the headlines, and when a certain disco band named ABBA was only just starting to take off. Keith Jarrett set off on the first ever European tour of his trio, which was formed in 1966 along with Charlie Haden and Paul Motian. ‘After the recording of Keith’s first solo album, ‘Facing You’ in Oslo with ECM, the trio’s next logical step was to do a concert tour’. ECM thus organised a European tour, which led the trio to Hungary, France, Germany and Denmark.

Hamburg 72’ is a live recording of one of the concerts in the studio of the Norddeutscher Rundfunk, which ECM has published today after more than 42 years of waiting. ‘The whole series of concerts was performed in a very relaxed atmosphere. The audience was curious, open and ready to experience the music; the spontaneity came very naturally. It was a real experience to take part in this musical communion, both musically and visually. This shared experience produced a type of music that is very hard to find these days’.

Keith Jarrett, Charlie Haden und Paul Motian - © ECM

ECM has owned the rights to the recording for a very long time, a gift they have carefully treasured. But the hour for its release has finally come. In July 2014 Keith Jarret returned to Europe for a series of solo concerts, flanked on his side by his producer and friend, Manfred Eicher. On the 11th July he performed at the Auditorium Parco della Musica in Rome. ‘We were both there together backstage after this great concert. Later on that same night, we heard about the death of Charlie Haden. I had already reserved my flight for Oslo the next morning to do a recording with Gary Peacocks Trio. From the evening of my return we started, Jan Erik Kongshaug and myself, to mix the recording of the Hamburg concert, which the sound engineer Hans-Heinrich Breitkreuz had recorded. I sent the result to Keith, and we decided together to make it public as soon as possible.’

Although it is not an easily accessible album, it is a magnificent testimony to a unique moment, driven by an incredible creative energy. As the Hamburg audience did 42 years ago, you have to submerge yourself in the music with enthusiasm and spontaneity to let the music of this exceptional trio ring freely.

Interview conducted by Alexandra Grillmeier
November 2014

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