Keith Jarrett’s final French solo concert will be shared with the world this fall with Bordeaux Concert, due out on September 30 via ECM Records. The album documents the trailblazing jazz pianist’s July 6, 2016 performance at the Auditorium de l’Opera National de Bordeaux.
Though Jarrett has logged plenty of time redefining jazz standards with his pioneering post-bop approach to the piano over the last half-century or so – most notably with his Standards trio featuring bassist Gary Peacock and drummer Jack DeJohnette – he’s always had a special gift for improv. His free-form concerts are among the most celebrated not only in Jarrett’s career but in jazz itself.
Jarrett’s Bordeaux performance lives up to that legacy. He unspools a 13-part improvisational suite, moving through a wide range of dynamics, stylistic modes, and emotional moods. At the time, some French reviewers even favorably compared the event to Jarrett’s milestone 1975 Köln concert, which altered the trajectory of the pianist’s career when released as an album.
In a review for Le Monde, Francis Marmande wrote of the performance, “He plays what he has never played, what no one has ever dared to play, … what no one will ever play again….” And when Stereophile’s Richard Lehnert covered the Munich 2016 live improv album recorded shortly before Bordeaux Concert, he said, “His elegance, restraint, freedom, austerity, richness, breadth of allusion, heartfelt depths, rhapsodic heights, passionate musical intelligence, rigorously disciplined expressiveness, development of forms invented in the moment, and concentrated brilliance – all executed with undiminished perfection of technique – are amazing, at times overwhelming. No one else does anything that comes close. No one ever has.”
But there’s a bittersweetness about this release as well. In 2018 Jarrett suffered a pair of strokes that rendered him unable to play. So there are no more concerts expected in his future. But fortunately, in addition to the enormous recorded legacy the pianist has already established, we’ll soon be given another luminous reminder of Jarrett’s musical genius.
Following up the release of Bordeaux Concert’s digital and CD formats, there will be a double-LP vinyl release of the recording on October 14.