Keith Jarrett/ Charlie Haden/ Paul Motian – Hamburg ’72 – ECM 2422, 55:22 [Distr. by Universal] ****:
(Keith Jarrett – piano, flute, percussion, soprano sax; Charlie Haden – doublebass; Paul Motian – drums, percussion)
In the late 1960s and continuing into the ‘70s, pianist Keith Jarrett had one of his most potent trios. Bassist Charlie Haden had cut his free form period teeth with Ornette Coleman, and drummer Paul Motian was coming from playing with Bill Evans’ most famous trio with Scott LaFaro. In 1972, Manfred Eicher, owner of ECM Records, set up a European tour for the trio. On June 14, 1972, a live recording was made by NDR at a jazz workshop in Hamburg.
Forty-two years later, Eicher has returned to the original tapes, and in Oslo last summer along with Jan Erik Kongshaug, Eicher remixed the taped session. The remix is superb and the interplay between these master musicians is fresh, vibrant, and makes for fascinating listening especially to hear the proficiency that Jarrett possessed playing the flute and soprano sax.
“Rainbow” opens with a lyrical piano introduction before the trio heads into some free improvisation led by Motian’s imposing ride cymbals that dominate the sound mix. Mid-track, Haden’s powerful fingering sets the stage for Jarrett to re-enter with a closing resounding finish. “Everything That Lives Laments” follows, and it also has a ruminative ballad opening before Motian’s bells and chimes blend with Haden’s heavily percussive accompaniment. Keith’s wooden flute ruminations bring out a Japanese folk motif. Jarrett then takes the near-ten-minute track into a neo-classical mode with Motian’s cymbals keeping time.
“Piece for Ornette” has Keith blowing freely on soprano sax like the song’s title would predict. It both roars and soars, driven by a fiery Motian, and a running Haden bass line. “Take Me Back” is a welcome gospel-inflected Jarrett composition that brings to mind the hypnotic vibe that Keith set in his solo concerts from that time period. Here Motian punctuates the intensity with potent drum fills. “Life Dance” is a three-minute miniature highlighted by Haden’s solo.
The intense evening ends with Haden’s “Song for Che,” and at over fifteen minutes we’re treated to Haden on both pizzicato and arco leading the way before Jarrett’s bracing saxophone and intensity building piano, surrounded by heavy percussion from both Keith and Paul. It must have been a wild ride hearing this set closer live….
TrackList: Rainbow, Everything That Lives Laments, Piece for Ornette, Take Me Back, Life, Dance; Song for Che