Monday, June 25, 2012

Keith Jarrett - J. S. Bach - Das Wohltemperierte Klavier Buch 1 (ECM New Series - 835 246-1)

Keith Jarrett is a worldwide known Jazz and improvisational pianist/composer. Actually it would be hard not to know him if you are into Jazz since he has been one of the most prominent artists in the last 3 decades. However, his talents are not limited only to Jazz since he has tried (Similar to his fellow contemporary Chick Corea) many different musical genres, mainly on the piano.

This box set is the interpretations of Bach's works for Harpsichord. This is quite a brief explanation of the whole thing actually. The reality lies a little deeper. As Jarrett himself explains, he did not want to add another Glenn Gould style version of Bach's works. There were already too many by lots of excessively gifted pianists. What Jarrett wanted to accomplish was to emphasize the whole thought process of Bach while he was composing these works.

One other interesting thing about the box set is that Jarrett did not want to adopt the works to the more flexible and expressive piano. He rather stuck to the original instrument of harpsichord. He explains the reasoning as "The piece is better than the piano". This is of course a step in his total process of trying to be as authentic as he could get to the music of Bach as he could while still having a touch of modernism via his improvisations. Honestly Jarrett's improvisations are the only key factor of difference from the original scores. Yet, we don't feel any make up or excessive expressionism on Jarrett's part. He is not showing off the parts that he improvises on. There are no Hendrix style "I lose myself now" solos. Jarrett's true talent here becomes in syncronising his miniature improvisations according to the general thought process of Bach and thus giving a more subtle view. There is no reforming here, no innovations, no ground breaking interpretations. It is just Bach with a little touch of Jarrett, but still under Bach's supervision. Even Bach would have been proud of this work.

Please also note that Keith Jarrett will be performing live in Istanbul during the Istanbul Jazz Festival on the 18th of July 2012 with Gary Peacock and Jack DeJohnette. This will be a night to remember. Tickets can be found here.

To buy this box set:

@ Ebay

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Kevin Ayers-John Cale-Eno-Nico - June 1, 1974 (Island - ILPS 9291)

It's not everyday that so many legendary names get together out of nowhere to give a concert. It is absolutely lovely that these once in a lifetime occurrings are documented. The case here is such a concert, and it is documented very well. This is all thanks to the sudden enlightenment of Kevin Ayers who started the ball rolling.

It all started in the mind of Kevin Ayers who was a member of the band Soft Machine. He had a concert in Rainbow Theatre in London and he contacted Nico, the famous German vocalist who also cooperated with Velvet Underground. Nico also brought in John Cale again from Velvet Underground. From here onwards, things started rolling fast as Cale asked Brian Eno to jump in (Of course Eno relished the opportunity). Ayers also asked Robert Wyatt and Mike Oldfield to come along.

After everything was arranged, the crew came out to be absolutely fantastic. So many talented people on the same stage. They also represented different eras and that is why the interest of the audience grew much stronger. 3000 tickets were sold out within days and everyone started expecting what a show it would be.

The record holds 9 of the tracks played that day. 2 of them belong to Brian Eno, 1 to Mae Axton, 1 to The Doors (Jim Morrison actually) and 5 to Kevin Ayers. It is exceptional that with only 1 week to rehearse, they have put on a very enlightening show with the crown to be Nico's version of "The End" from The Doors. It is pretty simple in itself with Nico on vocals and Eno on synth, yet it is very powerful.

The concert was held on June 1st, 1974 and it is still a delight to listen it today. I can just imagine being there, feeling that vast talent and savouring it as much as I can.

To buy the record:

@ Discogs
@ Ebay

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Metallica - Live In The 80's (Unofficial - #68/150)

In the last few weeks, I won a grand prize in one of Ebay's bidding wars. It is the exceptionally limited edition box set of Metallica which features their live performances in the 1980's. Well, some might say that most performances were already either released as CDs or DVDs, but not like this man! This is a box set of 150. Considering the pop band explanation of Lars Ulrich (Since they are popular, hell yeah), it is a great feat. Of course this is an unofficial release, not that it signifies anything. Actually it's making me happy that Lars may not get his way out of everything. Enough is enough.

The box set includes 4 coloured records which are taken from 4 concerts. Records are light blue (Sea blue), blue, yellow and white. There are no numbers, no identifications on the records. The box set was unofficially released in Ireland in 2008 and this is all I know actually. There is a track list sheet, but you cannot guess which record is from which concert. You learn by test playing.*

The concerts featured are the 18th of October 1982 concert at Old Waldorf, San Francisco, the 20th of December 1984 concert at Lyceum, London, the 21st of September 1986 concert at Hammersmith Odeon, London and the 3rd of February 1989 concert at Erwin Events Center, Austin (White record).

It is needless to write all tracks from the box set, yet it's enough to say that it covers all the first albums of the 80s. I am in a lazy day perhaps. Sorry for that. If you really need it, I can add later on.

These concerts feature all tracks of a given concert, and they are somewhat concentrated on certain albums. The sound quality is not jaw breaking. It is just passing. You have to crank up the volume a bit from the normal level to get a good hearing from the records. However, the sound quality also suffers, so if you just want to listen Metallica's concert performances, this is not the version you'll embrace. It is not perfect. There are clear mistakes while the guys are playing. There is not a make up to make things look as perfect as it can be. No editions, this or that. It is pure and simple. Metallica live!

The only problem is that the rpm of the light blue record is wrong. It is not even 33 rpm. Probably 25 or something. It is obviously a mispress, but there's nothing I could do. I just slowed down the speed as much as I can. However, it was still not enough. I had to endure fast versions of Seek And Destroy, Master Of Puppets etc. More than that, the voice of James was quite squeeky eventually. This concerned me about his well-being for a moment until I noticed the flaw on the record.

Yet, it is live, performances are good and you feel special. Recordings are not that good. OK. Yet, this is the reality of consumerism. I can't honestly be caring less.

* I was so urged to listen to them directly that I forgot to check the etchings on the records. Actually if you figure out one of the records you've listened, you can find which is which afterwards from the numbers.

To buy the box set, you need to search and search and be patient. It's not easy to come by. Sorry for not being able to provide a link.