Picks and Pans Review: G.i. Gurdjieff Sacred Hymns and Celestial Hawk

UPDATED 02/16/1981 at 01:00 AM EST Originally published 02/16/1981 at 01:00 AM EST

Keith Jarrett

The storied Russian mystic George Gurdjieff (1877-1949) reportedly had erratic driving habits, which included speeding on the wrong side of the road, refusing to go back when he missed a turn-off, and accelerating until he ran out of gas. The musical compositions he produced as part of his regimen to "rediscover individual essence" at his Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man show similar stubbornness. They defy convention, swerve in unexpected directions and sometimes deplete their fuel supply. They're fascinating nevertheless and are interpreted here with eloquent precision by Jarrett, the adventurous jazz pianist who has a predilection for works with a spiritual undercurrent. The mood is contemplative, sometimes haunting, yet not pious. The notes are eked out one by one as if they were some secret combination to the universe. Who knows? On an only slightly less elevated plane, The Celestial Hawk, Jarrett's other current LP, is a provocative, original work, recorded with the Syracuse Symphony conducted by Christopher Keene. Using stirring Stravinsky-esque orchestra arrangements as a firmament, the piano swoops and soars with all the majesty the title implies.

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