„I had a feeling for what I was going to do, and it couldn´t have been told to anyone else, so I couldn´t hire a tabla drummer. I had to be the tabla drummer. I couldn´t hire singers or flute players. The whole idea wasn´t what notes were being played. The idea was what came through.“
Jarrett´s album Spirits is more concerned with „primitive“ sounds than any of his albums before. And, to the surprise of quite a few listeners, the piano only plays a minor role. In his liner-notes, Jarrett describes the recording process:
„These tapes were made in my studio in New Jersey without an engineer and without anything but cassette recorders. They were recorded during the month of May-June, 1985, with no purpose other than allowing them to happen; filling a need. The music was not recorded with the intention of release to the public. During the month or so that the project lasted, I would go into the studio every day and „make“ something. There was no „studio“ feeling at all because I was alone with the instruments „at home“. These instruments have lived with me for quite some time and there is a Pakistani flute (originally a nose flute) that I bought in Sweden in the 60´s that plays a central role in these pieces. There also was no program to follow and, by far, most of the pieces were not written at all. Some of them that sound written were, also, not written.
Spontaneity is what I worked with. Some flute and drum tracks were recorded „flute-first“, others „drums-first“. There were no rules followed in sequencing or arranging. When it felt finished it was finished. Occasionally, when I added one more track, I would listen back and realize it was one too many. Since I could be in complete control I avoided controlling anything (including the recording themselves).“
Committed listeners will certainly find these elements in previous recordings, The Survivor´s Suite, Back Hand and several of his quartet recordings. In Spirits the music is bare of all sophistication, one can follow Jarrett´s search for the origins of music: voices, flutes, drums.