This was the first real indication to the world that Keith Jarrett was an ambitious, multi-talented threat to be reckoned with, an explosion of polystylistic music that sprawled over two LPs (now squeezed onto a single CD). Using his classic quartet (Dewey Redman, Charlie Haden, Paul Motian) as a base, Jarrett occasionally adds the biting rock-edged electric guitar of Sam Brown and always-intriguing percussionist Airto Moreira, and indulges in some pleasant string and brass arrangements of his own, along with some grinding organ smears and acceptable soprano sax. Jarrett again turns his early rampant eclecticism loose - from earthy gospel-tinged soul-jazz to the freewheeling atonal avant-garde - yet this time he does it with an exuberance and expansiveness that puts his previous solo work in the shade. "Common Mama," a spicy Latin workout with brass punctuations, "Take Me Back," driving soul jazz with streaks of electric jazz-rock, and the lengthy, nearly free "Nomads" are the most invigorating tracks.
All Music Guide
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Jazz musicians travel many roads before they settle on that path most satisfying to their muse. Along the way their expectations, and those of their audiences, can change dramatically. Indeed, throughout the history of American music, artists have perfected and discarded dozens of musical notions before arriving at that one moment they feel to most deeply express their own personal style. Even at that, there are further distillations and refinements to be made. In truth, no musician ever truly finishes his travels, but with each new step adds countless dimensions to a living work in progress.
Even as a young, brilliantly gifted, improvising wizard from Allentown, Pennsylvania, pianist Keith Jarrett could little anticipate how strong and steady his road to international acclaim would be. Born in 1945, Jarrett cut his teeth on a variety of gigs as a teenager, honing his considerable skills enough to earn a scholarship to the Berklee School of Music in Boston, but chose instead to continue his musical studies in Paris with that estimable classical mentor, Nadia Boulange.
By the mid-'60s, the young pianist was gig-ging with heavyweights like Roland Kirk and Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers (in a short-lived ensemble that included another future fusion superstar. Chuck Mangione), but it was work as a sideman with reedman Charles Lloyd that put Jarrett on the map. Along with drummer Jack DeJohnette and bassist Cecil McBee (later replaced by Ron McClure), the Charles Lloyd Quartet was to enjoy unprecedented crossover success as a kind of generic John Coltrane Quartet, which isn't to say that they were jiving. But on the strength of albums like Forest Flower, the Lloyd Quartet achieved international pop acclaim quite unlike that of any of their contemporaries, playing a heady amalgam of modern jazz styles back in the summer of love. In many ways, the rhythm section was the most interesting thing about the band, and on the strength of this exposure, Jarrett was soon able to form his own trio with Charlie Haden and Paul Motian.
To present day audiences, enraptured by his commitment to the acoustic piano and his solo recitals in both the jazz and classical idioms, Jarrett's developmental work as a sideman and leader on sessions for Atlantic, Columbia, and Impulse must be a source of wonder. Could this' really be the same Jarrett of Facing You and its introspective progeny? While his command of keyboard dynamics and timbre is no less ravishing than on those acclaimed later works for producer Manfred Eicher's ECM label, there is a raw, edgy funk to Jarrett's earlier work which in part reflects the tenor of those turbulent times, and the exploratory verve of all the musicians who came of age during them.
This was, after all-tor better and for purse-back during the first blush of what came to be known as fusion, a grand synthesis of all that was strong and true in jazz, blues, rock, funk, classical, and third world.. or so it was meant to be. Of course, things didn't work out quite as planned, and fusion took a hard right towards conventional pop. But 1972 was still the age of innocence, still a time of striving and hope and exploration. Musically, it was an era of inclusion, not exclusion, and armed with a fresh set of musical expectations, the hope was that you could blow what you know and create your own musical genre.
In many ways. Expectations was Jarrett's breakthrough album, or rather it should have been, because the powerful, unified musical visions of this double-record set were the culmination of Jarrett's initial experiences as a sideman and leader, summing up in many ways his feelings about his musical and spiritual influences, while delineating his own expectations of where all this music should go. On Expectations, Jarrett concocted a stunning blend of gospel, free jazz, and hard blues, forging a grand alliance between Bill Evans, Paul Bley, Cecil Teylor, Ornette Coleman, and Miles Davis by filtering out all the second-hand cKches and borrowings, and arriving at a shamanistic style all his own.
When Jarrett recorded Expectations-his first and only album for Columbia-he was completing a tour of duty with Columbia's preeminent jazz star. Miles Davis, with whom he appeared on Live At The Fillmore and Live Evil. (That so groundbreaking and ambitious an effort should have been his sole contribution to the CBS catalog can be attributed to the whims of then CBS President Clive Davis, who woke up on the wrong side of bed one morning, and straightaway decided to dispense with the services not only of Keith Jarrett, but Bill Evans, Charles Mingus, and Ornette Coleman as well.) With Davis he perfected, and subsequently abandoned (save for a cameo on Ruta And Daitya, an early ECM effort), a radical approach to electric keyboards that involved the simultaneous use of the Fender Rhodes Electric Piano and a Fender Rhodes Combo Organ to create an all-enveloping wash of sound. Animated by his furious, house-rocking sense of rhythm and his free, elliptical phrasing, Jarrett's solos and accompaniments were highlights of Miles Davis' concerts during that period (check out Live Evilkf further proof, should any be required). Watching him trance out over Jack DeJohnette's surging rhythms, his body contorted like an electric cobra, it was clear that Keith Jarrett wasn't going to be anybody's sideman for very long.