What happened was, I was gonna make the traditional Sunday-morning pancakes and bacon and, as I do every other week or so, told the eight-year-old to turn the damn cartoons off already because I wanted music. I threw the ancient vinyl of The Köln Concert by Keith Jarrett on the turntable and all these years later, I kept having to stop making pancakes because Keith had grabbed me where you have to listen when they grab you there.
The Context · Wikipedia has the story, dating from January 24, 1975 (wow, 40 years ago). It’s an interesting story and this sort of thing has happened more than once: Famous players, adverse conditions, fantastic result. “Four” & More comes to mind right away.
The Music · Oh, just shut up and listen. It’s only the best-selling solo jazz album, and best-selling solo piano album, of all time. There are nominally three tracks. They don’t have names. There was no rehearsal. The piano was a a second-rate fallback. Jarrett had severe back pain.
The music dances and moans and breathes: Pounding rhythms and castles of light in the air; Keith fires all the guns and explodes into space. OK, that’s overwrought, but there’s just not a calm way to talk about it.
The Sound · I’ve written here before about my audiophilia in general, and in particular the conundrum of liking vinyl in a digital age. I’ve taken up and left behind other passions over the years; but the expensive boxes at that end of the room give me reliable pleasure decade after decade and I can’t imagine living without what they do.
I bet the CD and MP3 versions of The Köln Concert are really great listening. But this LP, played through a decent system; well, that’s something extra special.