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VIII: 1976 Keith Jarrett - Sun Bear Concerts

Keith Jarrett - Sun Bear Concerts

Ask me about the ten records I'd take to the notorious island, give me ten seconds and because of insufficient time to seriously think about the answer I will say the five improvised piano solo concerts Keith Jarrett gave in Japan in November 1976 (actually ECM recorded 8 gigs but released only 5). I got those records more than 25 years ago and listened to them more than to any other music in my life. Especially during the last three years of my school days.

The sun bear is the smallest bear. It lives in East Asian woods and "is often tamed as a pet when young but can become bad tempered and dangerous as an adult" (Encyclopedia Britannica '81). Taking Jarrett's character and temperament into consideration it doesn't really come as a surprise that he liked to call his giant live album box after this little "grizzly" from the East.

Jarrett is known to be a rather difficult performer especially when improvising on his own. He aborted several concerts in the 70s as the audience didn't keep quiet and disturbed his trance-like concentration. Fortunately this didn't happen with the attentive Japanese listeners on his tour in November 1976. They participated in the creation of possibly the most eclectic and transcendental performances in the history of improvised piano music by just staying perfectly silent until the end.

Why is this thing about the audience being in total awe and almost erasing itself so important? It has to do with the fact that Jarrett is only the medium, the vessel, the instrument. It is not him playing. It his him being played. He is driven by something greater than himself. There are classical echoes of Schumann, Chopin, Satie and Ravel, there is jazz like e.g. Cecil Taylor and there is a force fusing all this into a unique musical cosmos.

Jarrett empties himself completely before a concert. He lets loose and sees what happens. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. When it does work like in the Sun Bear Concerts, it is like watching a couple making sex. Jarrett starts slowly, often with a leitmotiv, accelerates, passes a cacophonic desert, accompanies it with a lot of groaning and comes to a first melodic climax around 15' into the concert. The piano and its player become one.

I never met anybody who possessed those records. I am not sure how important it was for me that this music did not get shoved in my ears. There is something about discovering music totally on your own. Maybe that is the only music in which you really feel at home.

Ich fühle mich aufgehoben in Keith Jarrett's Anschlag, in seinen Pianotrips.

It is still great that I can almost anticipate every tone in these close to seven hours of piano heaven and hell. I hope reading this post won't turn off anyone of discovering Keith Jarrett.

I never listened to the Sun Bear Concerts on headphones, I think. The music needs space. It has always been a great inspiration to me as background music triggering my phantasy. To write romantic love letters in my adolescence e.g.

There is one image I can't forget. After school I had left Germany for good (I thought) and my parents were looking for me. Of course they also asked my only friend about my future plans. No idea what he said but he stayed one evening in my room and listened to these records. Going on a brain trip on our mutual music drug while I was on another, a real trip.

It is difficult to say which are my faves here. Maybe Kyoto (the 1st concert) and Nagoya which finishes weirdly with an ostinato becoming softer. Sapporo used to be my beloved one but I loved it to death. It is the easiest (most melodic) and closest to the Köln Concert. Osaka is pretty much perfect. Tokyo has some very disharmonic passages but is phantastic as well.

These concerts are almost too long to listen to them from start to finish. I have been used to listen to them on vinyl and changing the sides three times. On CD I am almost forced to listen to each concert in one sitting though the CD as a medium was too short for three of the five concerts (haha). As the encores didn't fit and had to be put on an extra disc.

Here is the overview of the series 40 years, 40 albums of which part VIII was this post.


Die Sun-Bear-Concerts. Würde mir gleich derart viel einfallen, das ich dazu schreiben möchte. Das ich den Auszug, den Sie da anbieten, liebe. Oder das mich diese Sammlung an Bella Martha erinnert, den ich ebenso sehr liebe. Oder das ich viel dafür geben würde, einem dieser alten Konzerte beiwohnen zu dürfen. Und wie bestürzt ich war, als ich in einem Lexikon-Artikel über seine Krankheit gelesen habe, die während den Aufnahmen zu The Melody At Night, With You stärker wurde. Oder wie wenigen Menschen in meinem Alter sein Name ein Begriff ist. Oder. Oder.

... link  


Würde mir gleich derart viel einfallen, das ich dazu schreiben möchte.
würde mich sehr interessieren.

dachte eigentlich, dass er seine "schlafkrankheit" (er ermüdet sehr schnell) mit the melody at night, with you ein bisschen geheilt hatte. aber auf mein gedächtnis ist nicht sehr verlass. "bella martha" kenne ich noch nicht. das köln konzert war mal die filmmusik bei einem moretti-film, ich glaube caro diario. haben Sie die komplette sun bear box? à propos anrede, können wir Du sagen? Das Sie mag ich nicht so in meinem blog.

... link  


Habe einen Teil von dem, was mir gestern in den Kopf kam, dort oben bereits geschrieben. Weiter wäre vielleicht noch zu erwähnen, dass mich The Melody at night, with you seit Jahren begleitet. Höre die CD oft am Abend, bevor ich zu Bett gehe. Eine CD, die ich auch in zehn Jahren noch hören werde. Keine Ahnung, wieso ich das weiß. Könnte das bei den meisten CDs nicht sagen, hier weiß ich es aber. Und wie gerührt ich war, als ich die Widmung im Booklet gelesen habe.

Die Sun-Bear-Concerts-Box besitze ich leider nicht, war mir bisher immer zu teuer. Wäre aber vielleicht ein schönes Weihnachtsgeschenk.

Bella Martha: Sehr zu empfehlen. Oft gesehen, immer wieder gemocht. Koche dann auch meist, bevor ich den Film sehe. Oder nachdem ich ihn gesehen habe.

... link  

... comment

last updated: 6/8/18 11:05 PM
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