"Wonderful music some of which sounds so much like Bach it is amazing. An then Keith Jarretts starts his moaning and groaning. He makes more noise than Glenn Gould and sounds like he has tourette syndrome or something. His noise ruins the record. Without his vocal nonsense, the music and performance is stunning and I wish it were available minus his obnoxious grunting and moaning."
The Sonic equivalent of a Rainbow
Roger Saxton | Las Cruces, New Mexico USA | 02/17/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"While the strings of the harpsichord and the piano have a
uniform sound even though the pitch is different for each
string, the strings of the clavichord do not have a uniform
sound. This creates a beautiful iridescence which at times
creates the illusion of multiple instruments being played.
Keith Jarrett takes advantage of all tonal resources of the
clavichord on this magnificent album. As was mentioned by
another reviewer, he exploits the full range of the clavichord
and makes use of both the lyrical and precussive qualities of
this instrument. The various sections range from feather light
ornamented cantilenas in the middle and upper to registers to
massive blocked chords in the middle and lower registers. Some
of the pieces are in baroque style while others, such as Section
Four of Part One, swing. Section Five of Part Two sounds like
a percussion solo. In order to appreciate this music, it is necessary to give full attention to it. If one is willing to do
that, this album will give an unending variety of aural pleasure. I must take issue with the reviewer who complained
the album was ruined by Jarrtett's vocalizations. They occur in
very few places; and when they do occur, they add to the music
rather than detract from it as far as I am concerned. I would
recommend this album to any serious listener of classical and
A very interesting experiment
Fernand Raynaud | 10/18/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Two hours of clavichord music? Hmmm...
The clavichord is not an easy instrument to listen to, and some people do find it rather off-putting; the problematic intonation, the steely sound of the strings, the noise of the keys. Insert one Keith Jarrett, and you've got the makings of an odd experiment which deserves five stars for sheer chutzpah, and actually winds up being an uncanny testament to Jarrett's ever-inventive musical mind.
There seems to actually be two clavichords on each track, as if he improvised one track, then overdubbed another on top, but I am not sure. Perhaps he played two at the same time, sitting in the middle, one hand on each at times. He uses the full range of the instrument (I'll bet Bach never imagined its percussive possibilities), and many different odd modes and styles. He runs the gamut from eastern-sounding meditative improvisations, to very Bach-like contrapuntal pieces.
Although I am in the minority here, I must say I am pretty tired of 4 out of 5 anonymous reviewers saying any Jarrett album is ruined by his "annoying humming and singing". In the general scheme of things, who cares? The humming is for the most part miked out of earshot, and if it does annoy you, I would suggest taking it as some sort of method to his madness; the process by which musical thoughts go from his head to his hands, and also how he allows his music to "breathe".
"Book of Ways" is a one-of-a-kind album; suitable for meditation, relaxation,...rainy days, and is also just as rewarding when given intense, focused listening. How many albums can you say that about? Take the risk: the rewards are many on this strange but evocative album."
An enchanting riddle
Fernand Raynaud | California, USA | 08/20/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I suppose there are many very different admirers of Keith Jarrett: jazz, classical, and generalists. This record will appeal to all.
There is a fourth group that will be fascinated: professionals with an interest in unusual instruments and recording techniques. The recording is super-clean, and makes no "earlier than thou" concessions to the clavichord as historical instrument, i.e. no low level mastering (a clavichord is quiet, they say, so it should be barely audible), no emphasis on the clunking of the keybed (clavichords are "early", they claim, so let's make them sound primitive). Here every string can be heard, loud and clear, and the microphones are not straddling the keys. There appear to be two tracks of improvised playing, so well done that it blends into one "super clav". The instrument(s) used appear to be single-strung, every string rings out true, there is none of the fuzziness of the museum specimens. It's a new take on the species, and what a marvelous and expressive instrument this is! With its guitar-like sonorities and expressiveness, it's a keyboard player's nirvana. I hope more keyboard players will discover it.
The music itself is contemplative improv. A bit of the Koln concert in another dimension. It will speak to all of Jarrett's fans who aren't locked into record-bin categories. Some of the pieces have a baroque character, others a folk music simplicity that is disarming. A few are highly experimental, percussive, or oriental-sounding, a couple less interesting than the rest. It's a sort of "reflections in the history of music". None of the music sounds contrived. He uses the full range of the instrument, with its note bending, great dynamic range and ability to pour out emotion. In some ways it makes me think of the great early Sandy Bull and John Fahey recordings.
As to Jarrett's occasionally audible humming and vocalizations, they indeed offer a glimpse into the composer-player's mind, as someone said, into the "breathing" that generates the piece, or that glues the two tracks together into that seamless whole. It's in a sense music for musicians, or for listeners who don't mind glimpsing what goes one behind the scenes.
It's altogether an album for people who love all sorts of honest music, for whom it will be a frequent (evening?) companion."