His live boxed set is simply killer. I prefer him playing his own compositions to music written by others. Thankfully, most of his recordings (his name on the cover) were of his own stuff.
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Tough question unless you've listened to all of them (I certainly haven't), and even then different people tend to like different aspects of his art. Remember, this is a guy who can go from straight-ahead standards to free jazz. You should sample and decide for yourself.
With that in mind, one way to break down his oeuvre is:
1) solo work
2) the standards trio (w/Peacock & DeJohnette)
3) everything else.
For solo work, the classic is Koln Concert, which you have to hear, even though the piano's out of tune. Many people (including possibly Jarrett himself) think Vienna is his best. It's a bit too heavy-handed for my taste. My favorite is La Scala, but that's partly sentimental--the first time I heard him live he did "Over the Rainbow" as an encore.
For the trio, I think Still Live is the best I've heard. It's standards with an edge. More traditional is Tokyo 96. Inside Out is free. (I've heard them play free live and it's amazing, but it doesn't work for me on record.) I'm embarrassed to admit that I don't have the Live at the Blue Note 6-CD set, but it's widely viewed as great. There's a 1-CD subset, if you want to start with that.
I don't know enough of his other work to comment. Hope this helps.
Follow link below to a list of his works.
(AMG now requires registering which I don't like).
I love Jarrett, probably have at least 25 of his LP's. There is one particular album with Alice Coltrane and Charlie Hayden that is so spectacular, every time I play it someone makes a point of writing down the title.
It's called "Closeness" and was released on A&M in 1976.
This guy is so unbelievable it's difficult to point out a single work.
Live at the Blue Note six-CD is the best for me, with a more intimate sound than other live recordings (due to the smaller place) and a very nice bass sound. The ballads in this record are absolutely outstanding.
Although I like all the standard trio works, my favorites are "Whisper Not" (Live in Paris) and Tokyo 1996.
In the Solo area, "La Scala" is a nice recording as is "The melody at night with you"
I don't like him whem plays in "free" style (Inside Out or Always Let Me Go). Thousgh, enjoy one of the best piano players-improvisers in the jazz world
If the Piano is really out of tune, why then this album is considered a classic and sells more than any other KJ albums? All I know is that the recording is really very open and the ambience is great. I think this recording has great dynamics even though it is mainly solo piano.
I am not a musician nor I know how to tune any instruments but am I missing something?
The last track of the At The Dear Head Inn recording is It's Easy to Remember: a strong favourite. It is absolute music, gently delivered to a place of weightlessness that is so free and exquisite. I return to it late at night after long sessions of opera, classical music or taxing music of any genre. Agree with above re: Standards Vol 1 and 2 and Koln concert. Koln is a testament to KJ at his most inspired, yet It's easy to remember is KJ at his most exquisite.