I was so into Brad Mehldau’s Live In Tokyo that I went searching for another solo jazz piano concert and the algorithm served up Keith Jarrett’s The Köln Concert. It’s a double album with one big composition divided into four parts, each taking a side of the original record. I began listening to it almost ten years ago and just took delivery of a used copy of the vinyl record. I’m listening as I type these thoughts and it sounds great.
Even as a kid I understood that ECM was a label that produced high quality records. This was made to sound great for a long time and whoever owned it before me took care of it. Every note is true and each of Jarrett’s moans (he gets into a kind of trance and makes some odd noises that jarred me at first but are part of it now) sound right. It’s as if I were there in 1975 but better. I was six or seven then and more into Dumb Ditties and Funky Favorites (K-Tel records) than solo piano jazz. I wouldn’t have fully appreciated the performance.
Even now I don’t fully appreciate it. It's a case of appreciating it more and in new ways with each listen. There are things about it I’m unlikely to understand ever but I know what I like and this album is spectacular. Unlike the Mehldau album which had the misfortune of coming out when it wasn’t cool to make records, I get to enjoy not just the music but also the sleeve, the feel of the record in my hands, and the romance that goes along with spinning a record on the turntable, playing it through an amp on good speakers. It feels as good as it sounds.
I remember reading about this record and Jarrett, especially about the moaning and his penchant for absolute silence from the crowd. Those stories added to the sound of it as did learning more about improvisation and coming to understand that mode of composition similarities to how I write without knowing where the idea will go until I get there. Unlike Jarrett, live onstage in Köln, I get to revise and rewrite. Jarrett though is a genius and I have yet to hear reason for a single retake. The performance and this record are quite literally all good.