Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Revisiting Euro-Jarrett

Perhaps I was too enraptured by his so-called American Quartet or too much in love with his rapturous solo inventions of the 1970s, but I never delved too far into Keith Jarrett's 'European Quartet' with Jan Garbarek, Jon Christensen and Palle Danielsson. The band struck me as cold and rather academic in comparison to Dewey Redman's squawking raunch, Charlie Haden's deep grooves and Paul Motian's effortless swing.

So, if you've been lucky enough to hear Sleeper, the 1979 concert that ECM released last week, you know what a slap in the head I've taken. I've long since become a huge fan of Garbarek (many thanks to my late friend Eric Nisenson for hipping me to the saxophonist's great works) but his gruff, extended blowing here is still a revelation. On "Chant Of The Soil" and "New Dance," he takes Jarrett's music as out as Redman ever did, but with more connection to the melodic core of the compositions. In concert, the Latin grooves of "Personal Mountains" and "New Dance" have a slippery essence that I wasn't expecting.

What a joy it is to discover exciting music like this 33 years after the fact. I'll just try not to kick myself too often for missing it all this time.

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