CD1 : Parts I – X
CD2 : Parts XI – XX
Keith Jarrett – Electric guitars, Fender bass, drums, tablas, percussion,
voice, recorder, piano
This disc, recorded in Keith Jarrett’s home studio back in 1986, is something of a curiosity. To begin with, there is a Producer’s note which advises the
listener to play the music at high volume in order to hear subtleties in the playing which may otherwise be missed. Secondly, although the piano features,
it is only very briefly. The instruments involved (see above) are otherwise not usually associated with one of the giants of modern jazz piano. In the
sleeve-note, Jarrett professes a long attachment to the drums and electric guitar in particular, but is self-effacing about his talents. (There’s a nice
story about Stan Getz who was apparently impressed by Jarrett’s guitar playing, heard while Jarrett was sitting in with a jazz trio. Not knowing who the
guitarist was, he offered him a tour with his own group. Jarrett comments ‘That must have been a rare good solo for me’.) I have an idea, too, that the
title of the album, No End, is an oblique reference to the suddenness with which many of the tracks conclude, at times in what seems to be an
arbitrary way. Keith himself describes it in this way: ‘Beginnings and endings were either hit-or-miss or just plain astoundingly intuitive’. What we’re
talking about, then, is extemporisation rather than formal composition - not unknown for Jarrett ! In addition, of course, this is Jarrett playing a number
of instruments and recorded as if he were a group.
The range of styles and genres evident here, especially on guitar, is fascinating. Eastern, Hawaiian, rock-influenced, Latin-tinged, all are here at
various points. Of the tracks I warmed to, V on CD1 makes for pleasant listening with Jarrett’s trademark background vocals (noises?) apparent. VI, though meandering is also very listenable. On track X, there is some piano, at last, albeit briefly, but a richer, fuller group sound
with one of the better guitar contributions. Track XII on CD2 is altogether more melodic than most others on the disc and features a recognisable
theme, good interaction between Fender bass and guitar as well as being one of the longer tracks at just over six minutes.
There are other tracks which make rewarding listening (track XI has some relaxed guitar improvisation and track XV contains quietly impassioned guitar).
All in all, though, there’s insufficient variety when spread across two discs. I suspect that Jarrett completists will want this album and that curiosity
may draw others to give it a try, but that there won’t be a large market for it, despite Keith Jarrett’s enduring appeal and his musical virtuosity.