JOHN RONEY | Montreal International Jazz Festival

Revered both artistically and commercially as one of the finest moments of improvisation in performed/recorded history, it is a tall order to attempt a ‘recreation’ of Keith Jarrett’s Köln Concert. John Roney is wise to offer a foreword to the audience that this is a tribute as opposed to a facsimile.

There are other tell-tale signs that it is John as opposed to Keith on stage. A couple arrive late, front row/centre: they are not ejected. A mobile phone goes off: no one is killed. The air-con splutters throughout the performance: the pianist does not storm off stage. Roney’s willing-ness to persevere in ‘circumstances’ that would almost certainly have resulted in a Jarrett-exit (Jarrexit?) ensures that the audience is treated to an impressive musical homage.

While the choreographed break after the first movement slightly disrupts the immersion of both audience and artist, from the re-start the energy is focussed and eventually takes him into something of a trance as the concert takes flight. Complete with foot-tapping and vocal lines, Roney’s interpretation of the seminal work has flare and rough edges in all the right places. Face intermittently turned up to the light, there is something quite singular about the inspiration that he seeks throughout the performance and channels into the piano.

The audience is feeling it, erupting into applause and a standing-ovation as John stands triumphantly centre-stage. He thanks Keith for the inspiration. We thank him for the concert. ‘Memories of Tomorrow’ closes the show. Surely a Köln-cept album beckons.

Festival international de Jazz de Montréal runs from 28 June to 8 July. You can view the whole programme here.

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