I had no idea that The Köln Concert is by far Keith Jarrett's most successful record, not to mention the most successful solo jazz album of all time. The Köln Concert is right up there -- which is hard for me to believe -- with Miles Davis' Kind of Blue (1959). The story of The Köln Concert is well known. Jarrett had just driven from Switzerland. His back was killing him; he was wearing a brace. When he arrived at the opera house in Cologne where the gig was he learned that the piano he requested was not there; instead, a smaller, out of tune practice piano was found backstage and frantic attempts were made to make it listenable. The upper and lower keys were hard to hear. This molded the performance that Jarrett was to deliver because it forced him to play predominantly with the middle keys; also, the spacey, wafting New Age sound was partly a result of using a double mic, which one reviewer commented made the piano sound like it was made out of five stories of glass. What we have is a faithful mirror of the Zeitgeist 1975. Improvised before a packed house of Hippies at midnight, The Köln Concert would create a whole new genre, New Age. It reminds me of the Windam Hill Records sound so prevalent in the late '70s and into the mid-'80s. It is the sound of the Hippie turning her back on revolution and settling down to a solidly bourgeois lifestyle. This is not to say it is bad record. I think it is an amazing document, particularly "Part IIb."
"Impressive" just doesn't do this concert justice. This is Keith at the height of his creativity and inspiration. Often making it onto the top lists of music afficionados, regardless of genre, and for good reason.
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