Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Keith Jarrett

  • Fort Yawuh [Impulse, 1973] A-
  • Treasure Island [Impulse, 1974] B
  • Death and the Flower [Impulse, 1975] B
  • Bop-Be [ABC/Impulse, 1978] A

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Fort Yawuh [Impulse, 1973]
The first acoustic jazz record I've made an effort to like in years, and it was worth it. Side two is easy--Paul Motian draws you into "De Drums," and Jarrett's "Still Life, Still Life" is instantly pretty and gets better. But side one sounds like the usual new jumble for at least ten plays until suddenly Dewey Redman establishes himself as heir to Ornette, just like the highbrows say he is. Redman's Ear of the Behearer is my next project. A-

Treasure Island [Impulse, 1974]
If Jarrett's Solo Concerts are too statusy and static, then this moves with a suspiciously unambitious ease--it's true to all its own assumptions, only it assumes too little. When he is on (e.g., Fort Yawuh) Jarrett can conjure beauty out of chaos and agitation out of peace. All he comes up with here is pleasant little surges of melody. B

Death and the Flower [Impulse, 1975]
Jarrett has the kind of gift that is labeled genius because it's so hard to put down. But for a genius, he makes an awful lot of music that can best be described as pleasant. Granted that its pleasantness is substantial and sensual and spirited all at once. Granted too that the accomplishment of this album is more reliable than that of his last group effort, Treasure Island. I still expect more from a genius. B

Bop-Be [ABC/Impulse, 1978]
Unspiritual clod that I am, I can live my life content without ever going along on one of Jarrett's endless solo pilgrimages, but I love this collection of circa-1976 quartet material. Ah, ain't theme-and-improvisation grand, especially when Dewey Redman is showing so much control and heart on the saxophone that dominates what is nominally a pianist's record. Redman also contributes two angular compositions and a desultory one that I like anyway, and Charlie Haden chips in another two. I don't even mind when Jarrett plays soprano sax, or sounds--appropriately enough--like Brubeck on the final cut. Ah, ain't group creation grand. A

Further Notes:

Subjects for Further Research [1970s]: Not a rock musician. Sometimes I'm not so sure he's a jazz musician either.