Facing You

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Facing You
Facing You.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedMarch 1972 [1]
RecordedNovember 10, 1971
StudioArne Bendiksen Studio, Oslo
[ECM 1017]
ProducerManfred Eicher
Keith Jarrett chronology
Facing You
Keith Jarrett solo piano chronology
Facing You
Solo Concerts: Bremen/Lausanne
Professional ratings
Review scores
Encyclopedia of Popular Music[3]
The Penguin Guide to Jazz[4]
The Rolling Stone Jazz Record Guide[5]
Tom HullB+ ((2-star Honorable Mention)(2-star Honorable Mention))[6]

Facing You is the first solo piano album recorded by pianist Keith Jarrett, the first of his voluminous collection to be produced by Manfred Eicher and his first work to be released by ECM Records. It features eight solo piano pieces (improvised and/or composed by himself) and it was recorded in the studio.[1] It marked the beginning of Jarrett's innovative and successful career in spontaneous and improvised performance on solo piano, and it constitutes a landmark in his fruitful association with ECM Records.

The album was recorded in Oslo (Norway) on November 10, 1971, one day after a concert performance with the Miles Davis Septet in the same city.[7] It was released in 1972 and has been reissued many times in different formats, including vinyl.[8]

Critical reception[edit]

In a 1972 review for Rolling Stone, Bob Palmer called the album "perhaps the best solo piano recording since Art Tatum left us."[9]

The album won the Grand Prix des Festivals at Montreux in 1973.[10]

The Allmusic review by Michael G. Nastos awarded the album 4½ stars, stating, "A remarkable effort that reveals more and more with each listen, this recording has stood the test of time, and is unquestionably a Top Three recording in Keith Jarrett's long and storied career.".[2] The review also states that:

Facing You is one of the most important recordings in contemporary jazz for several reasons, aside from being beautifully conceived and executed by pianist Keith Jarrett. It is a hallmark recording of solo piano in any discipline, a signature piece in the early ECM label discography, a distinct departure from mainstream jazz, a breakthrough for Jarrett, and a studio prelude for his most famous solo project to follow, The Köln Concert.[2]

In October 2007 writing for jazz.com, Ted Gioia gave the track In Front a 100/100 rating and praised it:[11]

"Here on the opening track of his first solo piano recording, Keith Jarrett announces a new era of jazz keyboard music. Even today, decades later, we can hear the repercussions in contemporary piano stylings. Jarrett helped shape a new language for improvised music, demonstrated the marvels of his conception and touch, explored novel paths of thematic development, and recalibrated the roles of the left and right hands in piano jazz —all in the course of a 10-minute performance. My favorite moments: the funky ostinato groove that kicks in right before the four minute mark, and then the shimmering resolution that dawns two minutes later. Jarrett still had his first solo concert records —the edifices of Bremen, Lausanne and Köln— ahead of him, but here at age 26 he had arrived, no longer the young prodigy of jazz, but a mature artist charting the future."

Regarding In Front and writing for JazzTimes, in 2011 pianist Kenny Werner stated that:[12]

"There are so many things in this piece, starting with Jarrett's interactive left hand and subtle right-hand accompaniment. The harmonies are unquestioningly new; all the beautiful complexities of the head release into a hybrid boogie-woogie or barrelhouse style. In a period when jazz was hipper and unsentimental, Jarrett reintroduced early American elements that are taken for granted today-sort of inventing the country/gospel-style harmony employed by many contemporary artists. Similarly, in the '60s and '70s, the style of linear playing over chord changes tended to be more rhythmic than melodic and generally based on pentatonic scales. Jarrett reintroduced an element of ornamentation that had not been heard since the music of Liszt and Chopin.

Moreover, when it comes to the whole album, he adds:[12]

"(..) although his most famous solo recording, The Köln Concert, and all subsequent solo recordings, are much better known to the public, for me his first solo recording, Facing You, reigns supreme. Its innovative approach to composition and musical development was shocking at the time. Jarrett radiated as much warmth, heart and beauty in his playing as he did virtuosity and intellect. Jarrett’s playing represents new and innovative levels of harmonic, rhythmic and melodic development bundled with the vastest creativity imaginable. It was a new standard of playing in its time and still is today."

Aftermath and Legacy[edit]

In 2000, in an interview with Terry Gross, Keith Jarrett explained how the idea of long solo piano concerts began:[13]

"It started out maybe as a result of recording 'Facing You', I can’t remember. But it started out, I remember, at the Heidelberg Jazz Festival, where I was supposedly, I wasn’t very well-known, I guess. And I came out and did a solo thing. And it was tunes, but I started to connect them somehow. Like, I’d have these transitional parts that connected everything. And then that somehow just moved slowly into the expanded solo concert, where there are no songs whatsoever and everything is improvised on the spot."

In a DownBeat interview with Bob Palmer, Jarrett expressed his gratitude to Eicher for the opportunity to record for ECM: "If I hadn't found him there would be no solo albums, no Facing You, let alone a successful triple album. I would have a desk full of scores that have never been rehearsed, not to mention played or recorded. There's no way I can repay that possibility having come to me so early and at such a good time except to produce more music for ECM. They took the risk and the expense, or Manfred did."[14]

Track listing[edit]

All compositions by Keith Jarrett
  1. "In Front" – 10:09
  2. "Ritooria" – 5:57
  3. "Lalene" – 8:39
  4. "My Lady, My Child" – 7:24
  5. "Landscape for Future Earth" – 3:36
  6. "Starbright" – 5:07
  7. "Vapallia" – 3:57
  8. "Semblence" – 3:02


Keith Jarrett – piano

Technical Personnel[edit]

  • Jan Erik Kongshaug - recording engineer
  • Danny Michael - photography
  • Barbara and Burkhart Wojirsch - cover design and layout
  • Manfred Eicher - production


  1. ^ a b ECM Records Keith Jarrett: Facing you accessed May 2020
  2. ^ a b c Nastos, M. Allmusic Review accessed September 9, 2011
  3. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music. Omnibus Press. ISBN 9780857125958. Retrieved 1 May 2019.
  4. ^ Cook, Richard; Morton, Brian (2008). The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings (9th ed.). Penguin. p. 768. ISBN 978-0-141-03401-0.
  5. ^ Swenson, J., ed. (1985). The Rolling Stone Jazz Record Guide. USA: Random House/Rolling Stone. pp. 112. ISBN 0-394-72643-X.
  6. ^ Hull, Tom (28 February 2018). "Streamnotes". Tom Hull – on the Web. Retrieved 9 July 2020.
  7. ^ keithjarrett.org Miles Davis Septet in Oslo (Norway), November 9, 1971 accessed May 2020.
  8. ^ Audiophile Audition (August 2018) Keith Jarrett – Facing You – ECM Records accessed May 2020
  9. ^ Palmer, Bob (December 21, 1972). "Keith Jarrett: Expectations/Birth/Facing You". Rolling Stone. No. 124. p. 66.
  10. ^ Sandner, Wolfgang (2020). Keith Jarrett: A Biography. Translated by Jarrett, Chris. Equinox. p. 67.
  11. ^ Gioia, Ted (October 2007) The Dozens: Essential Keith Jarrett by Ted Gioia at Jazz.com accessed September 2020
  12. ^ a b Werner, Kenny (August 2011, updated April 2019) Artist's Choice: Kenny Werner on Keith Jarrett at Jazztimes.com accessed September 2020
  13. ^ Terry Gross (September 2000) Jazz great Keith Jarrett discusses living with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), accessed May 2020
  14. ^ Palmer, Bob (October 10, 1974). "The Inner Octaves of Keith Jarrett". DownBeat. Retrieved January 24, 2022.