Few artists have transformed the landscape of jazz music in quite the same way as Keith Jarrett. Over the course six decades, Jarrett revolutionized piano music as a sideman to Miles Davis, Charles Lloyd, and others, and as a bandleader in his own right. But some of his most captivating recordings present him alone onstage, building thrilling and beautiful pieces that are entirely improvised. One need only look toward his stellar run of ECM recordings releases – among them The Köln Concert (1975), Facing You (1972), or his most recent release Budapest Concert (recorded 2016, released October 2020) – to hear why Jarrett has earned the reputation of a genius of his craft. Though the musician has reportedly suffered a series of debilitating strokes that likely mean the end of his life as a piano player, his 95 recordings as a leader or soloist serve as a testament to improvisation, inspiration, and tension in the moment.
One such legendary collection, Sun Bear Concerts, is set to arrive on shelves in the States on March 19. Originally released in 1978, the staggering 10-LP box set (totaling over six hours of thrilling, improvised music) documented eight performances in Japan undertaken by Jarrett in November 1976. These performances were recorded by engineer Okihiro Sugano and producer Manfred Eicher, head of ECM Records and presented in gorgeous fashion.
Over 40 years later, these landmark recordings return to vinyl in a limited-edition facsimile of the original presentation. That means you get the ten discs housed in a luxurious folio (slipcase not included, as was the case with original Japanese pressings), plus a 16-page booklet of photographs and notes, as well as records with the iconic green and silver ECM labels. All the music has been newly remastered in an all-analog chain from the original master tapes. Each handmade set in this limited edition of 2,000 copies comes individually numbered. And although bonus tracks from various CD issues don’t feature here, the legendary performances from the original Sun Bear Concerts collection might once more stun listeners old and new. Look for it this Friday, March 19, at the links below.
Keith Jarrett, Sun Bear Concerts: Piano Solo – Recorded in Japan (originally released as ECM Records 10-LP set ECM-1100 – reissued ECM/UMe, 2021) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. / Amazon Canada / Your Local Record Shop)
LP 1 / Side A: Kyoto Part I a
LP 1 / Side B: Kyoto Part I b
LP 2 / Side A: Kyoto Part II a
LP 2 / Side B: Kyoto Part II b
LP 3 / Side A: Osaka Part I a
LP 3 / Side B: Osaka Part I b
LP 4 / Side A: Osaka Part II a
LP 4 / Side B: Osaka Part II b
LP 5 / Side A: Nagoya Part I a
LP 5 / Side B: Nagoya Part I b
LP 6 / Side A: Nagoya Part II a
LP 6 / Side B: Nagoya Part II b
LP 7 / Side A: Tokyo Part I a
LP 7 / Side B: Tokyo Part I b
LP 8 / Side A: Tokyo Part II a
LP 8 / Side B: Tokyo Part II b
LP 9 / Side A: Sapporo Part I a
LP 9 / Side B: Sapporo Part I b
LP 10 / Side A: Sapporo Part II a
LP 10 / Side B: Sapporo Part II b