Well his most famous solo recording is the Koln Concerts. Two LPs of improvisational piano recorded in Koln, Germany. I'm sure that others will chime in on others.
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"Arbor Zena" mid 70's Jarrett with full orchestra, beautiful piece and one of my fav's..
"Nude Ants" and "Bop Be" are late 70's Jarrett in traditional jazz quartet setting, good stuff very innovative. In the 90's and 2000's some nice cds were released in trio jazz standards settings, Kieth with Jack Dejohnette on drums and I think Gary Peacock? or Charlie Haden on bass.
I consider myself as big a KJ fan as anyone. I've got many of his recordings and all of his dvd releases of the Japan concerts, which most were recorded from the mid to late 80's. His trio work is the best place to begin I would think because it's timeless stuff that sounds like his current recordings.
Anything with Keith Jarrett Trio will be a winner. Blue note did a 6 disc recording from a live NYC appearance. His best album, imho, although not found on vinyl would be: live at the deerhead inn, recorded near his hometown in PA
Keith has been recording/touring with Gary Peacock and Jack DeJohnette for decades now. Probably the longest running jazz piano trio ever. He did a stint with bassist Charlie Haden yes, but that was decades ago.
Checkout the LaScala disc, which is a live performance of an Italian concert. Over the Rainbow is the real gem there...it's one of those performances one can listen to over and again, for KJ's harmonic approach to the tune stretches this well known standard to never before heard levels of the tune by anyone, and his delicate touch on the tune makes it a must have. I spent an entire year absorbing a note for note piano transcription of the tune at the piano, so perhaps that gives you some idea of the tunes merit.
Personally, I almost prefer viewing his live trio performances on dvd, to listening to him on audio. There are 7-8 of them available, which can be located as best buys on the bay. Someone else may chime in regarding his classical recordings, but anything you find in a used record store of his KJ Trio stuff will likely be a gem. Standard I and Standards II are both excellent recordings. Most of the KJ Trio recordings of the past 2 decades all have excellent jazz standard interpretations. Keith is a master of reworking jazz standards. Check his version of God Bless The Child on Standards I...he rewrites the tune rhythmically and embellishes it to a degree that only KJ can do. Most of his KJ Trio is can't miss stuff, so that's as good a place to begin as any. Enjoy!
I've been listening intently to KJ now for well over 35 years and have most of his recordings. The Koln Concert is what really put him (and ECM I would argue) on the map, and an essential recording. My Songs is another wonderful recording from that period.
When it comes to "standards", Jarrett really shines, solo, w/ his trio or w/ friends (his recent recording w/ C. Haden, Jasmine, is a delight), as he brings a touch to the piano w/ a sense of minimalism that cuts to the core of each piece. Sublime. His recording of a year or so ago, Paris/London, is a wonderful example.
My personal favorite over time, as I keep coming back to it, probably is The Melody at Night with You. 10+ years later this still brings tears to my eyes...
WARNING - Don't buy too many at once if you are sensitive to performers moaning unmusically on their recordings. By unmisically I mean nowhere near the key they're playing nor in time of the music. Just random, dissonent vocal moaning. It adds no value to the music, just a distraction, especially if listening on headphones.
That said, I think he is supremely talented and I do enjoy his music very much. But sometimes this habit of moaning gets on my nerves and ruins the music for me. But only sometimes.
My two favorite recordings of his are Koln Concert and Tokyo Live.
What Rockadanny and Marakanetz are referring to is that Keith moans as if he is in pain while he plays. This moaning is more prominent on some recordings and less on others.
The moaning keeps me away from most of his albums but obviously other people are more tolerant of it. Maybe posters could give an idea of the amount of moaning on the albums they are recommending.
I really like Standards Vol I and II from the mid-80's on ECM. Very well recorded and with just a few exceptions really great song selection and interpretations. I particularly like "Never Let Me Go" which just kills me. Also, nice balance in these recordings with good detail and very articulate bass. On the "moan" quotiant, yes--there is a fair amount on these LP's. But it bothers me not at all. It gives the recordings a very live feeling and allows me to hear how he is figuring out the improvisation in his head while his hands make it happen. Ask my wife about his moaning and you will get a very different answer....
'Never let me go' is in fact a must have gem of Keith's. I love his use of space to build the tune. Brilliant stuff. Another equally good ballad is 'It's easy to remember' from the live PA recording I mentioned earlier. A third ballad, probably my personal favorite as his best ever is only available on a trio's DVD from a Japan concert: Blame it on my youth. The trio recorded that cut on a cd but it didn't receive the same treatment in tempo as the DVD. I had to record the DVD version to a digital recorder in order to get a recording I could later transcribe at the keyboard.
Yes, KJ's presence of being lost in the music doesn't endear him to some with the constant moans and grunts, but as a hobbyist musician I simply view that as the man giving every ounce of himself to his music. Oscar Peterson, and countless other jazz pianists moan on recordings, but it's KJ who gets ridiculed for his level of gyrations...but hey, that's genius at work...so we live it!
What a terrific list of suggestions and posts; thank you so very much! I hope I'm not imagining it, but I believe I saw "Nude Ants," and "Hymns Spheres" in the store. I will check later this week. I saw some of his performances on youtube and his grunting didn't seem to bother me that much, but then again it was youtube, not my system.
I will share with you what I find. Happy holidays and happy listening!
Surprisingly no one mentioned KJ's work with "the European Quartet", which predats his Jazz trio work. I personally prefer the queartet over the trio. My favorite recordings of the European Quartet are the albums "my song" and "personal mountains". Check them out - very different from the trio work - more innovative in my view.
Second, from the very large solo improvisation concerts catalogue, the 2009 PAris/London (testament) recording is very good. Additionally, if you are into computer audio, the album is downloadable from HD Tracks in 96/24 high rez, and the sound quality is unsurpassed.
The store had Hymns/Spheres and that's about it from the list of recommendations here. I sampled that record and it's just not my cup of tea. They also had "Expectations," "Spirits," "Staircase," "Fort Yawuh," "The Judgment,"and "Invocations/The Moths and the Flame." I purchased "Expectations" and it's pretty intriguing; I feel as if I need at least several listening sessions to actually gauge the character of that recording. As for other recordings, as good as Keith is, I just need more than one instrument to get into the music.
Changes, IMHO is "his" best. KJ, GP & JdJ trio. Also like from the same trio and as mentioned previously by Jfrech thier most recent ECM release Yesterdays. A fantastic recording with amazing imaging sounds stage and detail. It is recorded live in Tokyo. I also have DVD of the same Tokyo recordings.
Couple of nights ago I was listening to Yesterdays with my wife and 18 month old son. My son was dancing and running around as he normally does, then at the end of the track when the applause started my son freaked out! But no worries by the end of the second track he was clapping along with the crowd.
I have yet to hear Jasmine but I can only imagine that it must be great given all the positive comments hear on the gon.
Also check-out Jack DeJohnette, Tin Can Alley.