Songs with a Singing Heart
This is the record to play for your pop-obsessed friends who think they don't like jazz. There's no spang-a-langing swing. No happy brass. Not even so much as a shout chorus. Instead, pianist Keith Jarrett leads three quiet Europeans through a series of unassailably beautiful, bravely romantic rhapsodies. My Song is chamber music—its restive themes are stated plainly and then elaborated on by four empathetic musicians. At the same time, My Song is also rhythmic music, in its own meandering way—the title track is built around a steady lilting piano phrase, while "Questar" moves at an ambling, fractured flamenco backbeat. (Steely Dan interpolated bits of the melody and the rhythm of "Questar" into "Gaucho.")
At the center of this record are Jarrett's winding-road themes, tunes with a singing heart. These exude the straightforward earnestness of children's music—everything beneath the melodies is there to glorify and amplify them. The simplicity inspires gallant long-tone solos from saxophonist Jan Garbarek, and slippery, effortlessly liquid lines from Jarrett, who is in an unbelievable zone here. The tunes give off plenty of light by themselves, and as Jarrett wanders through them, he somehow locates more sources of illumination, expanding these heartbreakingly direct, emotionally open themes as he goes. The result is unlike anything else ever filed under "Jazz."
Released: 1978, ECM
Key Tracks: "Questar," "Country," "Tabarka," "My Song"
Catalog Choice: Arbour Zena; Facing You; Belonging
Next Stop: Ralph Towner: Solstice
Book Page: 394