Picks and Pans Review: Invocations/the Moth and the Flame
Anyone who experiments as much as Jarrett is bound to come up occasionally with a concoction that just sits there in the test tube doing nothing. That's the case with half this two-record set. Invocations, recorded last October, features Jarrett playing solo soprano sax and the pipe organ of the 17th-century Ottobeuren Abbey near Memmingen, West Germany. The result: 41 minutes of tedium. Jarrett has played sax for a long time, but while he's fluent, his solos are aimless. Many organ passages, full of stark chords and ominous flurries, sound like something from a 1940s horror film sound track. The Moth and the Flame, however, is Jarrett doing what he does best. Recorded in 1979, the 38-minute piano improvisation nicely fits its title. It flutters through styles that hint of Debussy, Ravel, Strauss, Gershwin and Art Tatum, among others, yet coalesces in Jarrett's unique ability to find relationships between disparate elements. Both LPs were recorded digitally, so reproduction is exceptionally sharp.