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In this one about Koln, the author explores the theoretical and philosophical bases of Jarrett's epic improvisational masterpiece - from his conceptions of music and creation to the patterns present in the music and their antecedents in the work of Paul Bley and Chick Corea and his own work, the author does an outstanding job of helping the listener understand what makes this particular recording so special and still so fresh sounding over 40 years after it was recorded on a busted piano.
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Keith Jarrett's the Koln Concert
Considering the complexity of this group's compositions, improvisations, group interactions, treatments of form, meter and hypermeter , and harmony, Waters's analytical prose is surprisingly cogent. He abstains from a single analytical methodology, and instead adopts a malleable approach that draws on both familiar and novel analytical models, all tethered to the equally pliable musical aesthetic of the band. Waters is also well-versed in the relevant literature on the band and its individual members.
He eschews the uninformed historical narrative that presupposes Davis's autonomy in forging musical direction, and clears up the misconception that this band worked similarly to Davis's previous quintet, which privileged first takes in the studio.
- *Editor's Note.
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The availability of alternate takes, in-studio dialogue, and first-hand accounts by the musicians themselves offer valuable insight into the quintet's experimental studio processes. By revising and rearranging tempos, feels, harmonic progressions, rhythms, and melodic statements, this quintet treated the studio space and the recording process as dynamic supplements to compositional, formal, and improvisational processes.
Tackley arduously parses through all of the contemporaneous literature—newspaper reviews and articles, program notes, first-hand accounts of musicians and audience members—pertaining to the Carnegie performance, as well as the subsequent literature concerning the LP and CD releases.
In doing so, she excavates an intricate reception history of the music, considering the inter-generational audiences at whom the concert and its subsequent releases on record were aimed, as well as the shifting historiographic modalities within which critics were writing. All are succinctly summarized in provocative but easily digestible prose. Tackley's musical analysis in "Part II" which accounts for the bulk of the book , however, is a lackluster component in her study.
Every track on the recording is studied to some degree, and much of these analyses draw from Tackley's personal transcriptions—an assiduous undertaking on her part to be sure. Yet much of what the reader evinces from these conclusions is disproportionate to the time, work, and space devoted to their presentation. At times, Tackley misses opportunities to tease out a more fruitful analysis that would be germane to, and thus enrich, the wonderfully astute work she offers in Parts I and III of her study.
Brooklyn College | Reading Jazz Recordings
Her comparison of Benny Goodman's and Harry James's respective solos on "Life Goes to a Party" seems to miss the mark completely, making interpretive claims that are unsubstantiated by the music's auditory import. Underwhelming musical analysis aside, Tackley's historical realizations here are fresh and elucidating. Her findings from investigating the critical receptions of the performance and its different disseminations on record are well-nuanced and effectively deployed throughout her study.