Album Remarks & Appraisals:
"If jazz has any superstars, he's one of them. But can he keep this up? Jarrett thinks Rio, from an April, 2011 concert in Rio de Janeiro, is one of his best, saying "There is no way that I could have gotten to this particular musical place a second time." That might sound a little portentous, but Rio is indeed a special album. A sense of contentment and pure enjoyment permeates the playing... After forty years of spontaneous composition, Jarrett remains a great original, and on Rio, his voice is as clear as ever." -All About Jazz
"The story goes that Jarrett was on the phone to ECM boss Manfred Eicher barely before the applause had died down, convinced this was his best gig in years – and he's right. Warmer and less abstract than his still-remarkable 2006 Carnegie Hall solo show, a constantly changing (and totally improvised) soundscape of rocking African and Latin vamps, fragile love songs, guitar-like blues and sparingly deployed free jazz, Rio represents Jarrett at his most exuberant... For old Jarrett fans and prospective new ones, it's a must." -The Guardian
Down Beat (p.67) - 5 stars out of 5 -- "The pastel harmonies, svelte harmonic changeups and rhythmic surprises of Brazilian music flavor this almost casually brilliant album."
JazzTimes (pp.49-50) - "There are exquisite spaces of music on RIO. Part II begins in rapt tremolos and proceeds like a slow search for the keyboard's deepest secrets."
Personnel: Keith Jarrett (piano).
Recording information: Theatro Municipal, Rio De Janeiro (04/09/2011).
Photographer: Daniela Yohannes.
Rio, the double-disc solo concert recording by Keith Jarrett, marks his 40th anniversary as an ECM recording artist; coincidentally, Facing You, his debut for the label, was a solo piano recording, though cut in a studio. Many of Jarrett's improvised solo concerts have represented benchmarks in his career: The Köln Concert, The Sun Bear Solo Concerts, and La Scala among them. His musical and philosophical approach toward recording this way has evolved and been refined over the decades, but nowhere more so than on Rio, a complete document of his show at the Theatro Municipal in Rio de Janeiro in April of 2011. The date is a hint that something very different is afoot here: Jarrett's live offerings are usually issued years after an event instead of mere months afterwards (the pianist called label boss Manfred Eicher from the airport after the show. After one listen, it becomes obvious Rio is indeed very special. It puts on aural display Jarrett as a virtually boundless musician, whose on-the-spot, wide-ranging ideas are executed with astonishing immediacy and dexterity; this music is passionate, poetic (often songlike), and stands outside the confines of genre. The strength of his pianism and diversity in his thought and philosophy between music and everyday life dissolve into the freest improvisation he has ever displayed on record. In these 15 untitled selections, Jarrett allows everything from his sense impressions about the city, the country, cultural and social history, the evening, and the audience to simply have their way with him spontaneously. The effect is intimate, energetic, emotionally engaged, and wildly expressive and imaginative. What begins in the knotty dissonance and counterpoint of the first selection gives way to the elliptical on the second to something approaching song for the remainder of disc one's six selections. By the beginning of disc two, the listener is transfixed as jazz improvisation melds seamlessly into nearly classical investigations of detail, harmony, and nuance; simultaneously, folk traditions, blues and ballad forms, and rhythmic invention are all encased in a pervasive lyricism that possesses pianist and audience alike. Even music that sounds "familiar" is based on preconceived notions by the listener, since nothing approaching what is here actually exists in Jarrett's recorded catalog. Rio is therefore the new standard by which the pianist's future solo recordings will be judged, and perhaps also sets the bar for any other player who attempts the same. ~ Thom Jurek
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