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Image Entertainment presents
Solo Tribute: Keith Jarrett (1987)

"Why people tear the seam of anyone's dream / Is over my head."
- lyric from "Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me"

Review By: Jon Danziger   
Published: November 12, 2002

Stars: Keith Jarrett
Director: Kaname Kawachi

MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 01h:41m:52s
Release Date: October 01, 2002
UPC: 014381572223
Genre: jazz

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B- A-B-B D-

DVD Review

All artists have their eccentricities, and jazz pianist Keith Jarrett seems to have more than his share. His particular style is well captured on this disc, a live concert shot on April 14, 1987, at Tokyo's Suntory Hall, and marked Jarrett's one hundredth performance in Japan. He approaches the piano with an almost religious intensity, and Jarrett's manner of playing is particularly athletic—he's not banging on the keys, but he frequently rises up from the bench for emphasis, and even dances along to the music, as best he can with two hands on the keyboard. The tennis shoes he favors get a good, solid workout.

I don't know if it's Jarrett's personality or the language barrier, but he's got nothing to say to his audience; we don't even see them, and only their respectful applause (and some quiet chuckles when Jarrett clowns around with a towel, between songs) let us know that they are there. One shot in particular keeps recurring, shooting Jarrett's piano from the wings; the audience is blacked out and silent, the floor is waxed to a high gloss, and it looks as if Jarrett is a man alone with a piano in an empty gymnasium.

Though they play very different repertoires, in many respects the performer that Jarrett most resembles is Glenn Gould. Jarrett's fierce passion, unorthodox technique, delicacy at the keyboard, even his humming along with his own playing all are reminiscent of Gould; if Jarrett were to try his hand at the Goldberg Variations, no doubt he would turn first to Gould for inspiration. And if Gould had played any Gershwin, the cuts here are just as you might expect them to sound.

But unlike Gould, Jarrett thrives on live performance, and his work here feels even more improvisatory and animated than on his recordings. The tunes are standards from the American songbook, but this feels more like a classical recital than a gig with a cover and a two-drink minimum. Jarrett lingers over the melodies—he seems genuinely interested in the songs, not merely using them as a point of departure for his jazz riffs. (Not that there's anything wrong with that—cf., John Coltrane's moody cover of the cloying My Favorite Things, from The Sound of Music.) Sometimes Jarrett looks almost pained as he plays, and at others he's carried away with rapture, and you get the sense that the audience isn't quite sure what to make of his unconventional style—should they clap? Is the song over now?

The setlist:

The Night We Called It A Day
I Love You
Things Ain't What They Used To Be
I Loves You Porgy
There Is No Greater Love
Round About Midnight
Then I'll Be Tired Of You
Sweet And Lovely
The Wind
Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me
I Got It Bad And That Ain't Good

The last shot is a freeze frame of Jarrett after he's played his last note, and we don't hear the audience's applause; things revert to silence, just as they began. It's not an especially rewarding moment, but it's a fitting ending to the program, a contemplative jazz piano set elevated by the charisma and passion in Jarrett's work.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: A-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The transfer works well enough, though the black levels can be a little soft, and some of the colors are overly gauzy. The director loves dissolving from one shot to another, reminding us that this was a multi-camera shoot, and some of the work is nice, but the incessant close-ups tend to distract from the main order of business, the music.

Image Transfer Grade: B-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: The 5.1 track is no doubt better at reproducing the acoustical experience in the concert hall, but for straightforward presentation of the music, the PCM track is certainly more than sufficient. As you might expect, greater attention was lavished on the audio recording than on the video, and the work shows; the dynamic range isn't as keen as it might be, given the extremes of Jarrett's playing style, but there's little or no interference on the track.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Static menu
Music/Song Access with 15 cues and remote access
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual
Layers Switch: 00h:42m:37s

Extras Review: A chapter stop for each song is the full roster of extras.

Extras Grade: D-


Final Comments

Keith Jarrett is one of the more iconoclastic and inspired jazz pianists around, and his sound is well captured on this disc. There isn't much visual interest or interplay with his audience, but most of what's here is Jarrett at the keyboard, and he delivers the goods.


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