It was only last night, but already it rates among my most powerful memories—one I know will reverberate down time's lonely corridors, enduring where the daily slush of logistical life (thankfully) does not. Yesterday contained plenty of logistical craziness, but by 8:00 PM I was seated in the last row of the dress circle at Carnegie Hall next to my father, looking down on a stage empty but for a single piano, a bench, and a collection of microphones wired for the live recording of Keith Jarrett's solo improvisational performance. I have always loved these charged moments of anticipation before a performance, and I expected this concert to be something special—that much more so because the tickets came through a friend of a very dear friend in California, a last-minute opportunity to be seized, and because a love of Keith Jarrett was transmitted to me by my father, and this was a great way to thank him for bringing awareness of this man's music into my life. But this is all back story, not the memory. The memory is hard to put into words—music does not want your words—and I know I will struggle for days, weeks, maybe months or years, to find appropriate language for it. Nearly fifteen years ago, in notes to the ECM Complete Recordings of Keith Jarrett at the Blue Note, Jarrett himself wrote: "A master jazz musician goes onto the stage hoping to have a rendezvous with music. He/she knows the music is there (it always is), but this meeting depends not only on knowledge but on openness. It must be let in, recognized, and revealed to the listener, the first of which is the musician . . . . [This process] is like an attempt, over and over again, to reveal the heart of things." Last night, I don't think it would have been possible to see a greater openness, a greater dedication to this process; Jarrett's music was incredible genius, but just as great was the ability to not only hear the music but to have a visual experience of its creation. If you have seen him in concert, you will know what I am talking about; if you haven't, try to picture: a man for whom there is nothing else but one note and the next, the piano, the pursuit of a melody, a motif, a means of exposing the sacred. Picture a body that cannot stay seated, upright, but rather hunkers down ear to keyboard and then rises, leaning into the body of the instrument, his partner, all but folding his own inside. Picture a man playing with such physicality and passion—the stomping of feet like in a lusty Spanish dance, the vocalizing grunts and groans—you feel, despite your concert hall surroundings, that you have stumbled upon a moment of excruciating intimacy; one that you, the voyeur (écouteur?) cloaked in darkness, are not pure enough to merit, yet that you are fortunate enough to experience vicariously. Jarrett played last night with his whole body, clearly from the core and despite the limitations of his humanity. He said at one point, contemplating the tasks of starting, ending, playing through, that maybe beginning was the hardest part. That may be so, but once he did begin each piece, he chased it down relentlessly—he seemed to stretch the keyboard beyond its size, to push against its extremities, particularly at the upper end of the scale—and yet sometimes with such a gentle caress of the keys. Sometimes the sounds were ethereal, and at the end of some pieces, the notes seemed to tip off the edge of sound completely, rushing into a silence that was otherworldly. Last night's music was full of depth, humor, and most of all hope. One piece in particular—and it pains me that I do not have a more technical knowledge of music that would allow me to understand or communicate how this might have been achieved—one piece, to my mind, truly epitomized that human of all conditions, hope, capturing a notion of what people could achieve and create in the world, if the world were in the hands of artists. It was the one piece that, I will admit it, brought on tears. (Jarrett, by the way, clearly has his own opinions about the people whose hands have shaped our recent history: on a tangent regarding the economy and referring no doubt to the moral decay that helped bring it down, "Why would you want to bolster that?") The other thing he said—here I am, falling back on words again for lack of an ability to capture the music—was that perhaps the hardest part of all about this sort of improvisation was playing for 45 minutes "without getting into a corner." I can imagine; I wouldn't be able to get past two minutes, if I could begin at all. But, he added, "If you redefine 'corner,' eventually you won't be in it anymore." How true this is of everything, not just of playing jazz piano! In all, he played two sets, and we left after the second encore (first "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," and then "Miss Otis Regrets," two most excellent standards). And already, though this was only 24 hours ago, I could not hope to accurately reproduce any of the improvised passages. But the visceral quality of the music, the emotion, depth, humanity, and clear genius—that will last my lifetime, and I have a profound gratitude for those who made it possible for me to have this experience firsthand. For the notes themselves, I am happy to wait for the release of the recording. If you see "Keith Jarrett, Live at Carnegie Hall, January 2009" . . . be sure to listen up!