In Koln Conversations, Dorian Ford shares his passion for Keith Jarrett’s iconic 1975 improvisation. The album of the concert went on to become the best-selling solo album in jazz history and the best-selling piano album of all time. This programme marks and celebrates the fast approaching 50th anniversary of the original performance. Dorian has been playing this concert in a variety of settings since 2015, including a successful showcase in the 2019 Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
He plays the complete concert including improvised responses, creating an unusual chance to hear a vivid interpretation from an improvisor’s perspective.
A piano concert unlike any other – there are no standards. It’s solo piano music but with grooves, riffs and song-form changes, like jazz or rock.
Dorian says ‘It’s like I’m doing something in between playing the Hammerklavier and covering Bob Dylan songs all the while using the musical syntax of bebop. Ultimately though, it’s Keith’s unique songs that I’m covering.’
The aim is to oscillate in a frictionless state (zero gravity) between interpretation, improvisation and composition.
Recent/upcoming dates include:
- July 18th 2023 at Fidelio in Clerkenwell, London
- August 12th 2023 in Orbigny, France
- Monday 13th November 2023, Burgh House, Hampstead, London
It has been felt by some (and even some who are uniquely qualified to hold this opinion) that Keith Jarrett is the last of the great jazz innovators; a true jazz master, the ‘Last Guy’. Jarrett himself has said that in jazz, the narrative is what carries the music forward. And the narrative is the players playing. With all of Jarrett’s innovations, the solo piano concert is perhaps the most striking. But how does another player authentically engage in this narrative?
Given the German classical element In Keith’s solo performances it is perhaps no surprise that there is an excellent transcription of The Köln Concert (by Yukiko Kishinami and Kunihiko Yamashita). A few years ago I hit upon the idea of treating this transcription as a worthy addition to the classical piano canon. After working very hard at performing it this way, it suddenly struck me – as clearly as when I realised this was classical piano music – that this was jazz piano music. I needed to change my approach and play intros, heads, vamps, outros and codas. I realised that these structural staples of a jazz performance, along with improvisation and quotes, needed to be there in my playing/interpretation.
And so from The Köln Concert, Concert to Köln Conversations.
It’s hard to ascertain or declare if I’m truly involved in the narrative but I’m certainly not any closer by talking or writing; only by playing. So on that note I’ll leave the final words to Keith: “Music cannot be expressed or delivered in words. Music can’t be anything but itself.”