Sunday, July 04, 2010

FIJM Day 9

Keith Jarrett's concert in Wilfrid-Pelletier was preceded by an additional announcement beyond the usual "Bell thanks you in advance for turning off your cell phones and all other devices with an alarm": "Flash photography and video is explicitly prohibited throughout the entire concert, including the bows. This is a request from the artists themselves and we ask you to respect their wishes." Visions of Umbria danced in my head.

Musically, it was peerless. Jarrett's touch is still second-to-none, ranging from the opening "You Go To My Head" as a Bud Powell-ish medium swing, the heart-melting balladry of "Too Young to Go Steady," and the impossible task of making uptempo romps through "Autumn Leaves" and "All the Things You Are" captivating and intriguing. His double-time lines are full of invention and exploration, and when he sinks his teeth into more stock bebop and blues phrases they have a sense of catharsis and authority. Gary Peacock had a less aggressively amped sound than I remember, his solos concise statements. Jack DeJohnette at times threatened to overwhelm Keith, nailing the dirty gospel-blues in the first set and providing the most unpredictable yet entirely perfect fills throughout the whole concert.

Temperamentally, it seemed Keith was in better spirits than usual. There were coughs and he played through them. There was an inordinate amount of time between two tunes, and during the negotiations he joked "Three heads are better than one." Jarrett paced around the piano during much of Peacock's solos and was constantly drinking fluids and at one point seemingly taking medication. They repeated the "No flash photos even during the bows" announcement as we returned from intermission. At the end, they walked off during a standing ovation, returned for a second bow, and by popular demand they returned to the stage. Yet some moron decided to take a flash photo. Here's what ensued:
It's obvious I have created an atmosphere where I don't even have to say anything and everyone knows what is going on. So, the people behind that person, take their camera away and I'll shut up.
Walk offstage. House lights up. No encore.

You know what? From now on, I will celebrate Keith's FIJM appearances by playing Tokyo '96 and Whisper Not in the comfort of my own home, where I can wheeze and sneeze as I please. I wonder if there will ever be a critical mass of people fed up with Jarrett's antics who will just buy the records and stop going to the concerts. Fair enough - there really is nothing like hearing Keith's command of the piano live, to be in the same room as the trio creates spectacular versions of standards. But the records come close, and the mastery and vocabulary has been the same for 27 years, and it's much less expensive and a more pleasurable listening environment, quite frankly.

The Ninja Tune party at Metropolis was the perfect palate cleanser. No pretension, no diva behaviour. Just Mr. Scruff rocking the house with a set full of reggae, afrobeat, salsa and funk and potato-head animation shouting out various Montreal neighbourhoods and advising us: "Warning: Incoming bassline alert!" Perhaps Jarrett should adopt the same proviso: "Caution: virtuoso pianist with God complex ahead. Tread lightly."


Clinton said...

Hi Dave

It was a great concert, and Keith did exactly what we'd expect him to when some idiot decided to take a photo. Everyone had been warned. Some people are literally to stupid.

But I must say, musically this trio is reaching/has reached another dimension, one that (I think) didn't yet exist on those Tokyo '96 and Whisper Not records. The most amazing thing for me about the concert (and the reason I would go again) is their ability to find new and interesting "nether regions" (if I may put it that way) amongst this repertoire. All three musicians astound me, as individuals and as a group. Don't stay at home next time! There's lots more to hear! :)

I seldom hear such introspection and sage artistic experience shared so openly and at at level that few are able to contemplate. A true gift.

By the way, I enjoy reading your posts!

Jazzboymontreal said...

Please don't sneeze while I write this comment people as I will immediatly leave my keyboard !

what a ass.

good text David.

Anonymous said...

You know, as much as I would never do that myself as a performer, he DOES command a lot of respect and attention from his audiences. I mean, I can't even go to a classical concert or a play (never mind a concert with a drummer in a club!) without idiots with those damned blue screens shining in my face, like they can't wait an hour to text their friends. Some people, unclear on the concept, even retrieve messages in a theatre, thinking that if they never actually SPEAK on the phone, then it isn't disturbing anyone. And as for the people who actually TALK on the phone, during a concert, well... some of my most violent fantasies involve them.

Even though I hate the attitude that we ALL get punished because of one pinhead, there is no doubt that everyone is there to hear the MUSIC.

I have a story about Jarrett from 1987 when he came to Rochester for a concert and university talk when I was a student there. It's a long story, but very interesting. Remind me to tell you some day.

Christopher Smith

Ryshpan said...

@Clinton - in no way am I defending the pinhead who took the photo. In fact, I think an Alouettes tackle should have been on standby for him or her. But I find myself always on edge at Keith's concerts because, in a festival dominated by non-aficionados and tourists, there's always going to be some idiots who don't turn their phones off, or cough or sneeze.

If Bobby McFerrin can brush off an errant cellphone during an A CAPPELLA show in Wilfrid-Pelletier; if flashes don't disturb circus performers in the middle of death-defying flips; then really, Jarrett has no ground other than his reputation to stand on.

I agree, the trio keeps moving forward. But I did find a good chunk of what and how he played rooted in the vocabulary of Whisper Not. The version of "When Will the Blues Leave?" showed something more. But $100, a haughty attitude and a lecture more? I'm not that sure anymore.

Ryshpan said...

@Chris - I was recently guilty of being a blue-screen irritant, filling a friend in on the Chano Dominguez show she couldn't make at the last minute. I try to keep it as discreet as possible, and will cease if/when people ask me too. To me (and perhaps it's because I'm of the digital generation) silent tweeting and texting - especially if it's in the service of getting the word out to other potential listeners - is a lot less aggravating than people who insist on talking above the music or the play or the movie.