KEITH JARRETT — Fort Yawuh (review)

KEITH JARRETT — Fort Yawuh album cover Live album · 1973 · Avant-Garde Jazz Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
js
Throughout his lengthy career, Keith Jarrett has been one of the most important pianists of our time, but there was something different about his youthful playing that you don’t hear as much over the years. Before the Koln concert, the classical performances and the association with the somber 80s ECM sound, Jarrett’s playing was a lot funkier and bluesy soulful with plenty of gospel and roots country riffs to go around for everyone. Its from this earlier phase of his career that we get the loose, experimental and mostly high energy live concert known as “Fort Yawuh”. Joining Keith on this concert is his very talented, ‘American Quartet”, with Dewey Redman on tenor, Charlie Haden on bass and Paul Motian on drums. Part-time member, Danny Johnson, joins on percussion.

The album starts with the free post bop of “If the Misfits (Wear It)”, which opens with what sounds like the musicians imitating a North African field recording before going into high speed free-bop mode. Keith’s piano runs are both lightning fast and harmonically interesting at the same time. Dewey follows him with a strong tenor solo that shows the Coltrane and John Gilmore influences of the time. The album title track follows, and features the piano trio in free mode, but when they kick into an African rock groove, Redman joins with a Chinese musette solo that works really well with this sort of non-western rhythm. Side two kicks off with the gospel groove of “De Drums”, halfway through the track the rhythm picks up the tempo as Redman leads the band in a high energy soul jazz romp. Album closer “Still Life, Still Life”, is a ballad, but during Jarrett’s opening solo improv, he takes the tune into some very complex twisting turning twelve tone treatments.

The salient features on this album are enthusiastic energy and an open mind towards any possible musical influence. This group pulls from all the various musical influences described above, yet all those influences come together to make one sound and nothing sounds contrived or unnatural. There is a real joy at work in this album that is rare to come by.
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