Keith Jarrett

Treasure Island

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Treasure Island, released in early 1974, was the second of two albums pianist and composer Keith Jarrett recorded for Impulse Records -- the first was Fort Yawuh, issued a year earlier. Cut at Generation Sound Studios in New York City, the band consisted of Jarrett on piano and soprano saxophone, Dewey Redman on tenor, bassist Charlie Haden, and drummer Paul Motian. And though he would more than likely disagree, this was the best band he ever led. In addition to the quartet, guitarist Sam Brown contributes to a pair of cuts here as Guilherme Franco and Danny Johnson add percussion to the mix. The set kicks off with the beautiful "The Rich (And the Poor)," a folkish melody of the type Jarrett was exploring on ECM at the time, with some stellar African undertones -- it's easy to hear the majesty of Abdullah Ibrahim's South African musical sphere in this mix, and earthy deep, sparer work by Redman and Haden. The brief "Blue Streak," by contrast, is full-on and busy with melody and interplay between Redman and Motian. More speculative group improvisation occurs on "Fullsuvollivus," which travels decidedly outside, and the title cut with Sam Jones on electric guitar in place of Redman is a lithe, elegant, midtempo ballad that showcases Jarrett's truly magnificent melodic work in front of this enlarged rhythm section. The hardest groover on this set is their killer "Le Mistral," with some gorgeous interplay between Haden and Motian, and some extended solo work by Redman. "Angles (Without Edges)" is a dense construction that involves some taut counterpoint between Redman and Jarrett, even as the rhythm section tries to push them both inside toward one another -- Redman slips out of the frame a few times to excellent effect. Haden's solo is also particularly noteworthy. Brown returns on the closer "Sister Fortune," a track with almost rockist overtones. Jarrett had perhaps heard some records in his day, particularly from the Atlantic catalog, and he put that spin on this melody, which incorporates groove, repetitive and circular rhythm, and a songlike melodic structure with minimal improvisation -- though his own fills are quite stunning and deep in the pulse pocket. This is a terrific sendoff to a very fertile, creative period and begs the question as to what else may have happened had this band been able to explore their unique, fully communal sound together for more than a pair of albums.

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