Keith Jarrett, Tokyo Solo (ECM). With this magnificent DVD, the pianist banishes worries that his years under seige by chronic fatigue syndrome may have ended his solo career. He demonstrates, too, that he has learned the discipline of self-editing, reducing the average length of his inventions while sacrificing nothing of intensity, creativity or daring. Except for three encores, “Danny Boy,” “Old Man River” and “Don’t Worry ‘Bout Me,” his pieces have part numbers, not names. That may seem inelegant. The playing is not. The shortest piece is less than three minutes, the longest more than twenty. The instantaneous composition in one section of a piece inspires ideas for the next, and although the segments vary in shape and style, we witness the continuity of a fecund mind at work. As Jarrett wound down the ravishing “Part 1b,” it occurred to me that it must have been something like this when Mozart improvised.
About the production: Except for a few audience shots toward the very end, all we see is the stage, the piano and Jarrett. He performs in a pool of light, surrounded by darkness. It is a metaphor for his concentration. Director Kaname Kawachi uses cameramen and shot choices as a painter uses his palette. Quick cuts, cute zooms, virtuosic pans and dissolves are anathema to him. In the course of the concert, without a moment of video technique for its own sake, we see and hear every aspect of Jarrett’s pianism and performance–his keyboard touch, even the vibrato; his pedal technique, his half-crouches, the splaying of his feet, the grimaces, the groans. The sound quality of the piano is so high that on a reasonably good set of speakers, the viewer has the sensation of being in the hall.