Keith Jarrett – The Survivors’ Suite (1977/2015) [Qobuz 24bit/192kHz]

Keith Jarrett – The Survivors’ Suite (1977/2015)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/192 kHz  | Time – 00:48:39 minutes | 1,7 GB | Genre: Jazz
Official Digital Download – Source: Qobuz | © ECM Records GmbH
Recorded: April 1976 at Tonstudio Bauer, Ludwigsburg.

A quick perusal of the personnel and mechanics of this album is practically all one needs to get an idea of the tonal colors and moods with which its imagery is composed. The Survivors’ Suite finds Jarrett in a multi-instrumental role along with the all-star cast that makes up his American Quartet. The sheer synergy of the playing truly makes this music shimmer. For this reason, I hesitate to single out particular solos and motifs. Suffice it to say each member has his moment of glory in the concisely knit fabric of the album’s 49-minute duration.

The music shifts dramatically from soulful dirges to upbeat thematic variations in a vibrant flow of ideas. A sense of control reigns. One never feels lost while listening (or is, in fact, lost but doesn’t care), for the surroundings are so resplendent with life. This is a supremely evocative experience and the similarity of associations it has inspired in so many listeners is striking to say the least (peruse a few other reviews, and you’ll see what I mean). The Survivors’ Suite reaches beyond jazz, even if firmly rooted in jazz’s soil. Its sound is vast yet intimate, breathing with the sheer life force of its music-makers. There is a marked difference between its two sections, simply titled “Beginning” and “Conclusion.” They are not polar opposites and are more than complementary. They walk the same trails, perhaps pointing out different sights along the way, all the while knowing they will soon meet again. Where the former is timid yet progressive, the latter is democratic and viscous.

This is, without a doubt, a high point among Jarrett’s many ECM outings. It is expertly recorded (as evidenced by its superb balance of warmth and coolness), fluidly played, and widely cherished, as I am sure it will continue to be for decades to come.

One of the best recordings for Keith Jarrett’s mid-’70s American quartet (whose style differed sharply from its European doppelgänger), Survivor’s Suite opens with Jarrett’s aching, breathy sigh on the bass recorder, evoking the sound of a horn somewhere across a great expanse of fog. Percussion soon punctuates the melodic line to give the opening a more spiritual, ritualistic feel, which is only the first of many mutations that this album will go through. Divided into two parts, entitled “Beginning” and “Conclusion,” this suite effortlessly flows between its movements which range from fiery free jazz to open, meditative atmospheric pieces showing heavy input from indigenous musics to instrumental solos that owe a sylistic debt to the music of the previous decade. Jarrett has strong solos in both the first and second track, but his performances rise to the surface frequently to add warmth to the suite. The greatest contribution that he makes on this album, however, is as a composer, as its complex components seem to nestle together seamlessly again and again, even if the solos occasionally rapidly expand and contract with kinetic energy. As strong a hand as Jarrett has in this album, however, he definitely owes a debt to his supporting players, especially the passionate Dewey Redman and skilled Paul Motian, but Charlie Haden plays an important role in the execution of the suite as well, even if only to provide a skeleton to hang the more fluid elements on. Like other albums of its time, this was beginning to show the brightness, lightness, and soft edges of contemporary jazz, but the solidness of Haden’s bass helps keep it rooted and earthbound. -Stacia Proefrock, AllMusic

1 The Survivors’ Suite (Beginning) 27:34
2 The Survivors’ Suite (Conclusion) 21:32

Keith Jarrett, piano, soprano saxophone, bass recorder, celeste, osi drums
Dewey Redman, tenor saxophone, percussion
Charlie Haden, bass
Paul Motian, drums, percussion



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