Ted Gioia at The Daily Beast:
…I watched with amazement as The Köln Concert entered the mainstream culture, reaching an audience that I might have thought immune to the appeal of jazz piano. It eventually sold more than 3 million copies, and for a time ranked as the top-selling solo piano album in history.
And Jarrett did this by violating almost every rule of commercial music. The tracks on The Köln Concert were free-flowing spontaneous improvisations recorded live in concert in Germany. They lacked a holistic structure. Even worse, they were much too long for radio airplay. The opening cut was 26 minutes in duration, and the next two tracks were 15 minutes and 18 minutes long. Only the seven minute encore followed something resembling a song form, but even this sounded a world apart from the hit singles of the day.
I’ve listened to that 26-minute opening track so many times. It continues to inspire me.
Update, 3 Feb: Keith Jarrett in Cologne is a short radio piece on the concert, broadcast by the BBC in 2011. I hadn’t heard it before; it’s an enjoyable listen. It features an interview with concert organiser Vera Brandes, then only 17 years old.