Jarrett’s first-ever solo disc, made at the beginning of his long creative association with ECM in 1971, and cited as an influence by innumerable pianists since then.
Jarrett’s association with ECM dates from November 1971, when he and producer Manfred Eicher first collaborated on the hugely influential solo piano album Facing You, eight short pieces which, in Eicher’s words, “hold together like a suite”. The album also prefigured the solo piano concerts which would be such a defining aspect of Jarrett’s career.
(…) on September 11, 2000, Terry Gross, the host of National Public Radio’s Fresh Air, interviewed jazz great Keith Jarrett.
(…) GROSS: You certainly pioneered the solo piano concert, which eventually really caught on and spread to other instruments as well. What was it like in the early days being alone out there on the stage and improvising on your own?
MR. JARRETT: It started out maybe as a result of recording “Facing You.” I can’t remember. But it started out, I remember, at the Heidelberg Jazz Festival (ph), where I was supposedly–I wasn’t very well-known, I guess. And I came out and did a solo thing. And it was tunes, but I started to connect them somehow. Like, I’d have these transitional parts that connected everything. And then that somehow just moved slowly into the expanded solo concert, where there are no songs whatsoever and everything is improvised on the spot.
I don’t know. Someone once sent me a note from the audience that saying, `You must be awfully alone. You must feel awfully alone,’ or something like that. And I realized, when I read that, that that was true. It is a terribly a lonely thing to do. I mean, you’re not even bringing material along for companionship. (…)
An Ancient Observer is a collection of new original compositions written over the course of the last three to four years—two of which are based on Armenian melodies. Some of the pieces are through composed and completely written out while others are through composed but with ample space for Tigran to improvise. Many include vocals layered into the mix. Like most of his recordings, the influences of the music are manifold, ranging from classical Baroque dance to J-Dilla-esque hip-hop grooves adapted to piano to a few tracks with pedals connected to a synthesizer—though the Armenian influence, which makes his music so uniquely outstanding, is prominent.
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