It's good for you... better than milk!
G B | Connecticut | 03/10/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Though it never achieved the popularity of the Standards Trio, the European Quartet, or his solo performances, Keith Jarrett's American "Quartet" was one of his most exciting groups. Jarrett, tenor saxophonist Dewey Redman, bassist Charlie Haden and drummer Paul Motian were all strong musical personalities, but the creative tension they generated was conducive to some great music that "thought outside the box". It tied together a wide array of seemingly incompatible strands in modern jazz: the loose, quirky free-bop of Ornette Coleman ("Misfits", "Angles"), the romantic lyricism and harmonic richness of Bill Evans ("Still Life, Still Life", "Prayer"), and the groovy, gospel-infused soul jazz of Bobby Timmons and Cannonball Adderley ("De Drums", "Le Mistral"). It also drew on traditions outside jazz: Asian and African music ("Roads Travelled, Roads Veiled", "Kuum"), 20th century classical, and even hints of rock'n'roll ("Treasure Island"). And when the Quartet was not satisfied with the traditional jazz instruments, they tried others: Jarrett played soprano sax, Redman played a Chinese musette, and every member of the group played odd percussion. (The group usually included one or two additional percussionists.)Though the group also recorded for Atlantic, Columbia and ECM, the bulk of their work was done on the Impulse label. This box set packages the first four Impulse albums (Fort Yawuh, Treasure Island, Death and the Flower, and Backhand) on 5 CDs; each album showcases a different facet of the band's personality. Conveniently for LP-philes, the albums are presented on separate discs by initial running order (rather than chronologically, by session). The packaging is nice and compact -- a double jewel case holds all 5 CDs and fits into a neat slipcase.Fort Yawuh, on the first two CDs, lets the group stretch out live at the Village Vanguard -- most of the tunes are between 10 and 20 minutes. Treasure Island (disc 3) is the most accessible and rock-influenced; most of the tunes have strong backbeats and two tracks feature electric guitar. Death and the Flower is more reflective and revolves around the magnificent, organic group improvisation of the title track. Disc 5, Backhand, showcases the band at its jazziest; this may be my favorite album by the group.Since at most 2 of the albums are currently available domestically (Death and the Flower may be going out of print), this box set is probably the best investment for someone interested in this music. It is probably less expensive than the four albums would be individually. At any rate, any fan of Jarrett or post-bop jazz should hear this music is some form. People who like this set should also check out the classic "Survivor's Suite" (on ECM) and the 4 CD set of 1975-76 Impulse material titled "Mysteries"."
Amazing creative music
RnB freak | Canada | 03/16/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Admittedly this kind of jazz will not appeal to those whose idea of great music is Celine Deion, but it will reward those who have ears to hear the incredible interplay between the players on these recordings. If you like a lot of Ornette Coleman`s work, you will find much to love here. I am also a fan of Keith`s more "inside" work with DeJohnette and Gary Peacock as well as many of his ECM releases. But this stuff is, to my ears, the most challenging (ie. it takes a little work to get into) and the most rewarding."
Kevin Ray | Brooklyn, NY USA | 10/07/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'm not a big Keith Jarrett fan at all, so I was very pleasantly surprised when I got this on a friend's recommendation. This has some of the best Dewey Redman I've ever heard. Definitely a must-have, especially for Ornette fans."