Artist: Keith Jarrett
Musicians: Keith Jarrett, solo piano
I have one thing to say about this solo piano album by Keith Jarrett… Hourglass Part II. It’s utterly sublime if you find the time to really sink into the music.
This album was recorded in Paris, France in May of 1976. According to Keith Jarrett’s biography the piano was an excellent sounding Bosendorfer concert grand. And although Bosendorfer concert grand pianos are said to have a slightly darker tone than Steinways, the studio recording has an exceptional warmth to it, originally leading me to believe that it was a Steinway grand that was used.
Nevertheless, this album is truly a work of art, divided into 4 distinct sections: Staircase, Hourglass, Sundial, and Sand. And within each section there are 2 to 3 movements.
Forget the Koln Concert, and all the other live albums; this is the best Keith Jarrett album I’ve ever heard. It’s not always melodic, but when it is, it’s just beautiful, and when it isn’t, it still moves me. The whole thing has a timeless quality that has to be heard to be understood. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if this is eventually considered one of his most important recordings.
Actually, I like this person’s quote from Amazon.com, except that I wouldn’t forget The Koln Concert, no way… but I agree that Staircase is one of his most important recordings, and is one of the rare improvised solo piano albums he’s recorded in the studio. Most of his solo piano recordings are “live”.
On person on Amazon.com writes:
Staircase is the finest album of “in the studio” piano improvisations that Jarrett ever recorded. Which is to say that these are some of the finest piano improvisations that you will ever hear. The audio fidelity captured by Tonstudio Bauer where this album was recorded is incredible. That said, it should be noted that this is challenging music. Some pieces are almost minimalist in their approach, and a number have no recognizable melody but really only “texture.” Even so, this is some of the most original and remarkable piano improvisation ever captured on vinyl. For people who know Jarrett primarily through more popular albums such as the “Köln Concerts,” some of this music may seem a bit inaccessible. But if you listen with an open mind, you may have a profound musical experience…
As I once again re-visit this album, I am astounded by the minimalist quality and the sound recording quality. This is definitely a one-of-a-kind album that, if one digs deep and opens one’s heart to the music, it will be a musically rich reward to the listener…