Keith Jarrett

Sun Bear Concerts

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This gargantuan package -- a ten-LP set now compressed into a chunky six-CD box -- once was derided as the ultimate ego trip, probably by many who didn't take the time to hear it all. You have to go back to Art Tatum's solo records for Norman Granz in the '50s to find another large single outpouring of solo jazz piano like this, all of it improvised on the wing before five Japanese audiences in Kyoto, Osaka, Nagoya, Tokyo, and Sapporo. Yet the miracle is how consistently good much of this giant box is. In the opening Kyoto concert, Jarrett's gospel-driven muse is in full play, up to the level of his peak solo performances in Bremen and Koln, and the Osaka and Nagoya concerts have pockets of first-rate, often folk-like, even profound, lyrical ideas. The Tokyo concert takes a while to get in gear, but when Jarrett finally locks into one of his grooving vamps, he carries us along, and there is a memorably melodic encore. In Sapporo, Jarrett breaks from a nicely flowing pattern into a jumpy rhythm that reminds one of C&W guitar fingerpicking, and there's some exuberant barrelhouse stuff and outbreaks of dissonance in part two. Each concert is placed on a single CD, while the much briefer sixth disc is reserved for the encores from Nagoya, Tokyo, and Sapporo. While Sun Bear breaks little ground that his earlier solo piano albums had not already covered, it is nevertheless richly inventive within Jarrett's personal parameter of idioms. If price is not a barrier, the Jarrett devotee need not hesitate.

Track Listing - Disc 3

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 35:30 Amazon
2 39:55 Amazon

Track Listing - Disc 4

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 40:19 Amazon
2 35:21 Amazon

Track Listing - Disc 5

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 40:59 Amazon
2 33:55 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick