Keith Jarrett – Facing You (1972/2015)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/192 kHz | Time – 00:47:39 minutes | 1,53 GB | Genre: Jazz
Official Digital Download – Source: Qobuz | © ECM Records GmbH
Recorded: November 10, 1971 at Arne Bendiksen Studio, Oslo
The stunning ECM debut that unleashed one of the greatest piano players of our time. Using jazz as an excuse, Jarrett initiated and indoctrinated us with improvised solo piano, something to which listeners would become used to over the next three decades. Facing You is boogie-woogie, country hoedown, blues, folk, rock ‘n’ roll-flavoured jazz, and is still an astonishing album. The music press at the time of issue were bereft of ideas about how to categorize him; it would have been much simpler just to wallow in the music. Much of Jarrett’s and Manfred Eicher’s future musical philosophy started out with this important record.
Facing You is one of the most important recordings in contemporary jazz for several reasons, aside from being beautifully conceived and executed by pianist Keith Jarrett. It is a hallmark recording of solo piano in any discipline, a signature piece in the early ECM label discography, a distinct departure from mainstream jazz, a breakthrough for Jarrett, and a studio prelude for his most famous solo project to follow, The Köln Concert. Often meditative, richly melodic, inventive, and introspective beyond compare, Jarrett expresses his soul in tailored tones that set standards for not only this kind of jazz, but music that would serve him and his fans in good stead onward. In this program of all originals, which sound spontaneously improvised with certain pretexts and motifs as springboards, the rhapsodic “Ritooria,” 4/4 love/spirit song “Lalene,” and song for family and life “My Lady; My Child” firmly establish Jarrett’s heartfelt and thoughtful approach. “Vapallia” cements the thematic, seemingly effortless, lighter — but never tame — aesthetic. “Starbright” is an easy-paced two-step tune signifying fully Jarrett’s personalized stance. Straddling a more jagged, angular, and free edge, the pianist evokes the influence of Paul Bley during “Semblence” (sic). But it is the opening selection, an extended ten-minute opus titled “In Front,” that truly showcases Jarrett at his playful best — a timeless, modal, direct, and bright delight. A remarkable effort that reveals more and more with each listen, this recording has stood the test of time, and is unquestionably a Top Three recording in Keith Jarrett’s long and storied career. -Michael G. Nastos, AllMusic
Keith Jarrett will always be something of an enigma to me. Not because he is more than human, but because he plays with an honesty that is practically unfathomable. His melodies have a way of spiraling in on themselves and the effect is intoxicating.
This seminal album (his first for ECM) arguably finds Jarrett at his most focused and at his most transparent. Every note seems perfectly placed. His intuition is on fire here and we are only too happy to be engulfed along the way. “In Front” establishes a flavorful and scintillating mood from the get go before taking things down a notch with a requisite set of ballads. Of these, “My Lady, My Child” is achingly beautiful and gets only more so as it unspools. “Starbright” lifts the spirits with a shade of whimsy and gushes with the natural force of a breached dam, with “Vapallia” comprising its final trickles. Last but not least is “Semblence,” which rolls and bounces with the sheer exuberance Jarrett is known for.
What can one say about Jarrett’s performance style? Words like “fluid” and “unbridled” don’t even begin to capture it. His fingers seem to have minds of their own, anticipating each and every note before the next key is struck. Jarrett transcends the rubric of improvisation into something else entirely: improvisition. By this, I mean that his ability to call upon the music to speak is so compositionally disguised that it can only occur when one surrenders oneself to the freedom of the empty score. This produces not objective music, but rather the utmost subjective experience one can have with an instrument.
While Jarrett has been given all the credit for instituting the solo piano as a viable instrument beyond the confines of classical music, let us not forget his wonderful predecessors on ECM (and whose work I have previously reviewed on this blog). This disc is, I daresay, downright groovy. A real discovery to be treasured. Just listening to it makes me want to contort my face and screech along as if I were the one at the keys. Essential. -ecmreviews.com
1 In Front 10:05
2 Ritooria 5:50
3 Lalene 8:29
4 My Lady; My Child 7:17
5 Landscape For Future Earth 3:29
6 Starbright 5:01
7 Vapallia 3:51
8 Semblence 3:00
Keith Jarrett, piano