Keith Jarrett piano
Produced by Keith Jarrett
Recorded April, May, June and July 2014
Engineers: Martin Pearson and Ryu Kawashima (Tokyo)
Mastered at MSM Studios by Christoph Stickel and Manfred Eicher
Executive Producer: Manfred Eicher
Keith Jarrett’s second of two recordings released in 2015 is his most recent vintage, and a first in his discography for being a compilation of solo improvisations handpicked by the pianist from concerts in Toronto, Tokyo, Paris, and Rome the year before. As with all of the best solo recordings, this one develops patiently and with a sense of something so grandiose yet so intimate—the universe in a drop of ocean—that it’s all one can do to stay afloat in the sheer expanse of it all. Then again, Jarrett offers these pieces with such solemnity that we cannot help but feel invited to share in their rituals as equal partners.
Part I opens in deepest pulse, notes circling around one another like magnets that cannot decide whether they are polar complements or opposites. During the unfolding, it becomes clear that Jarrett was ready to pick up right where he left off on Rio, unraveling time through heart and fingers. The plodding nature of its construction does nothing to obscure a filament of light, which is then singled out by the nostalgic purview of Part II. In a promotional interview with NPR’s Rachel Martin, one of a few marking his 70th birthday, Jarrett stressed his new role as producer: the creation of Creation was indeed his first attempt at sequencing. Once he had settled on the first track, this second one followed, and so on. If the emerging narrative feels intentional, it’s only because it has a will of its own.
Lyricism reigns in Part III, which sounds like every ballad you’ve never heard. Its clarity is also its mystery. That such a fully formed openness could crawl out of any human being is astonishing to consider—that is, unless you count the birth of a child, which may just be the only wonder in this world to surpass it. Part IV nourishes this theme of growth from infancy, tracing as it does the wide-eyed expression of new parenthood even as it prunes back the shadowy branches of mortality sprouting foliage overhead. As so often happens when these emotions become too concentrated to keep inside, Jarrett’s voice makes its tender emergences. “It’s potential limitlessness,” he says in the aforementioned interview of that singing. “My main job is listening.” And rightly so, for we may feel him listening as intently as we are to Part V, which helicopters to the ground like a flurry of maple seeds in summer before wiling away the heat under the shade of a less threatening tree. Impressions of the prairie, of undying wilderness and civilization in kind, intermingle with anthemic signatures until the piano seems an open font.
Part VI marks a turning point in the program from the merely soulful to the fully sacred. Its every hue is captured with archaeological precision before it is set free. As the album’s widest vista, it encompasses the fewest impulses, and only magnifies them to the point of such scope that they feel more populous than they are. Every rolling hill becomes a puff of dandelion before us, the dream of a gentle giant with no harm in its past…or future. Part VII chooses one path among many and follows it as far as it will go. The river’s flow of its desperation is strangely tempered by solitude and leads to the angular way station of Part VIII. Here the slumber is more fitful, but nevertheless unbroken by violence. Indeed, peace is the order of the day in the final Part IX, which by virtue of its placement is destined to speak in the language of departure.
With such an extensive archive as yet unrendered, one may no longer speak of “classics” in the plural when referencing Keith Jarrett’s output. It’s all part of one ongoing song to which our attention is as mandatory as breathing.
(To hear samples of Creation, click here.)