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Album Review

Keith Jarrett returned to performing and recording solo concerts in 1995 with La Scala (released in 1997) after recovering from an illness. That fine recording followed his manner of working that he had begun on Köln Concert in 1975: That is, completely improvised concerts from beginning to end that had melodic and "motivic" centers. The double-disc set that is Radiance, recorded in Japan in 2002, is a new fork in the road. The work has no conceptual center. Jarrett says he wanted to let some of the music "happen" to him while he sat at the piano, deep in thought. He states: "I wanted my hands (particularly the left hand) to tell me things." And happen it does. Each piece, after the first one, comes out of the work that immediately precedes it. There are 13 linked pieces that mark the Osaka concert spread over the first disc, and one-third of disc two. The effect is startling at first because Jarrett is constantly working with what comes, whether dissonant or assonant; he uses the small essences, quick phrases, and themes that come out of each piece to dig further, to extend wider his discovery. Whispers of many musics enter, from classical and jazz to pop to Latin to folk. Nothing feels like a direct quote, but all of it gels together as elemental. Each piece is an aspect of a transformational construction. Most of the music very is exciting; it walks, then runs on edges before turning and stopping, then dances, crawls and rolls, ever-somewhere just past the reach of what preceded it. Some of Radiance is quiet and lyrical (part three, for instance), because it has been suggested by the intensity of the chaotic and forceful harmonic and rhythmic notions preceding it. Jarrett admits in his liner notes "The listener has to bear with me here. The whole thing is risky, but I've taken you places before and I'm not aiming to disappoint." This is born out in the way the audience responds. Some sections get no applause because of the quick, shape-shifting manner in which Jarrett seemingly careens from one place to the next. But intent listening reveals the sometimes very subtle links between themes, spaces, and harmonic and rhythmic invention. Two-thirds of disc two come from a concert in Tokyo conducted in much the same way, though he includes the first two pieces — a cut from the second-half of the concert and the final track — as the performance's closer. These do not distract from the Osaka gig. In fact they contain a beautiful, if momentarily disjointed flow. This is Jarrett the artist taking chances, lots of them. His process is immediate, poignant, and utterly engaging throughout and marks a new phase in his solo recordings that will spur great interest in any open-minded listener interested in improvisational music. There is a DVD of the Tokyo performance being prepared by ECM for release. ~Thom Jurek, Rovi

Customer Reviews


Keith really has to climb when he gets out of bed in the morning cause he's way deep on this one. =) Thanks yo


Every so often, I find myself in need of a mental break at work. I play Radiance Pt. 8 as it has such a soothing affect that makes one forget what drove the need to listen in the first place.

Hidden Genius

I bought this album well over a year ago. Initially, I was disappointed with the complexity and often atonality present throughout the CD. Disheartened, I left it alone giving myself a further opportunity to "understand" this album. A month ago I did just that, I uncovered it and began listening through it devotedly. Only after several listens did I realize just how deep and moving this album is. It is complicated, there is no doubt about that, but believe me, once you give your mind a few times to make sense of this album, you will not be able to leave it alone. This is a work that won't reveal its beauty in the 90 second clip iTunes allows. It must be slowly digested, contemplated, and given you full and undivided attention.


Born: May 8, 1945 in Allentown, PA

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Pianist, composer, and bandleader Keith Jarrett is one of the most prolific, innovative, and iconoclastic musicians to emerge from the late 20th century. As a pianist (though that is by no means the only instrument he plays), he literally changed the conversation in jazz by introducing an entirely new aesthetic regarding solo improvisation in concert. Though capable of playing in a wide variety of styles, Jarrett is deeply grounded in the jazz tradition. He has recorded nearly 80 albums as a leader...
Full Bio
Radiance, Keith Jarrett
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  • $24.99
  • Genres: Jazz, Music
  • Released: May 02, 2005

Customer Ratings