Review by Michael Schachter
The achievement of the performances on this album is so monumental that one finds oneself entangled in mental gymnastics to make sense of it—or more precisely, to make less sense of it. Faced with improvisations of such virtuosity, imagination, and structural integrity, even practitioners will be tempted by the narrative of Jarrett as a magical, mystical one-off, reaching heights inaccessible to mere mortals. (My own jazz piano teacher in high school once said to me: “Some players make you want to work, and some make you want to quit. Keith Jarrett makes you want to quit.”) And it is true that Jarrett puts more apparent distance between himself and common-practice jazz language than most, with unusually sparse recourse to idiomatic patterns and licks. Yet more than any other of Jarrett’s offerings, A Multitude of Angels gives a window into the essential rootedness of Jarrett’s craft, its foundations in tradition and listening and hard work—that is, in deep practice.