Was a young firebrand pianist in Charles Lloyd's 60's flower-power quartet, who could add some nice thorns to the bouquet. Joined Miles Davis' group in the early 70's, playing organ and electric piano. He went totally (and vehemently) acoustic from there, recording monster LPs with his "American" (Impulse Records) and "European" (ECM) quartets, but gaining fame mainly for his solo recitals. Now a Grand Old Man of the music, and still fascinating.


One of the more temperamental artists of our age. Gets really pissed off if someone so much as coughs during his live performance. But what a talent!

He was diagnosed as a prodigy from an early age and spent his childhood at the piano with various teachers. He credits one German male teacher as the one who did the most to form his talent. Apparently, he was playing the violin and the piano, and the German teacher told him that he was going to have to make a choice; that he could never be great on both.

His work with Norwegian saxophonist, Jan Garbarek, is some of the most haunting music you will ever hear. And when he sparks it up, such as in "As Long as You Know You're Living Yours," it's just as good as it gets in this genre.

If you enjoy piano jazz, you cannot overlook this genius.

Jarrett's Koln Concert is considered his most representative work. However his version of the Shostakovich "24 Preludes and Fugues" followed by Handel's "Keyboard Works" are my favourites amongst his recordings.

Of course, the Handel was written for harpsichord, not piano.

One of the greatest jazz/classical/improv pianists of the late 20th century. Best known for his membership in the Standards Trio through the early- and mid-1990's. However, in 1996 he began to suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome, so badly that he could no longer perform or even record. By the middle of 1999 he had gotten the malady under much better control and released a solo album, Melody At Night, With You, his first in four years.

Keith Jarrett is a monumental figure in 20th century music, particularly within, though not limited to, the jazz genre. While his primary instrument has always been piano, he has performed or recorded with a variety of instruments including recorders, Pakistani wooden flute, tabla, drums, various percussion instruments, guitar, saxophone, and chant. Stan Getz once offered him a job after hearing him play a gig when he was sitting in on guitar.

Keith started playing piano when he was 3, studying classical music and composition through his childhood and teens. His first professional gig was at the Deer Head Inn when he was 16. In his late teens he was going to study composition in Paris but decided instead to move to New York in 1964 (age 19) and play jazz. There he met Art Blakey and joined that man's famous Jazz Messengers group. His career was assured from there and he went on to play with Charles Lloyd (1966-1968), Charlie Haden and Paul Motian (the American Quartet, '68 to early 70s), the European Quartet, and Miles Davis' great electric fusion group ('70-'71). That was his last stint as a sideman, afterwhich he decided to only play acoustic music. Keith toured for many years as a solo artist, being the first ever to perform improvisational music in many prestigious (traditionally classical-only) venues like the Metropolitan Opera in New York (1978), the Musikverein in Vienna ('90 & '95), the Vienna State Opera in Staatsoper (1991), and La Scala in Milan (1995).

Since 1977, Keith has worked with Jack DeJohnette and Gary Peacock as the famous Standards Trio, so named because they play mostly old American jazz and show tunes from the 30s, 40s and 50s. No one was playing those tunes much anymore when the trio formed so it was a big deal at the time. Keith has recorded many albums from all the eras described above including classical records (e.g. Bach, Shostakovich) and many esoteric solo and group recordings (e.g. Spirits, Changes). His Koln Concert is the best-selling solo piano album ever.

Now that we've heard the historical record, let us enter into the music and mythology of this legendary musician. Personally, I've mostly heard Keith's recordings with the Standards Trio and of his live solo concerts. I've seen the trio perform three times in recent years and own one video of a concert of theirs in Tokyo and another of Keith solo in Tokya circa 1983. The solo shows are amazing to me in that he arrives at the piano with not a single note pre-composed. I think it's safe to say that no other musician in the world is as renowned who is able to put on entire concerts of pure improvisation. I've seen hundreds of jazz musicans perform but Keith has by far the most extraordinary performance style of any musician I have ever seen, in any genre of music. I suspect you would have to travel to a tribal, shamanic culture in order to see something similar. To put it simply, the man goes into an ecstatic trance (as in Webster 1913's def. of ecstasy). He literally dances in front of the piano, bowing, swaying, undulating, thrusting, at times looking as if he is making love to it. These creative convulsions are often accompanied by exclamatory verbalizations that shift from sounding like chanting, to pain cries, to grunts, to orgasmic shouts. It is truly amazing to watch and vastly entertaining. I've found that others sometimes find it distracting when they hear his cries over the music on his recordings. I think this behavior is a lot more pronounced during his solo performances and he seems to have toned it down a little in recent years. But I intuit that this is Keith's spiritual technique for ego dissolution through which he achieves an unrestricted flow from his Self, Muse, God, Logos, what have you. Thus are we privileged to hear Keith Jarrett's soulful blues, his tender, aching ballads, rocking jams, mystical Eastern modes, and abstract genius.

I was privileged to hear Jarrett perform in Manchester, UK. The solo concert was excellent, ranging from abstract and harmonically dense neo-classical impro to rolling, singing, gospel/blues. But what stayed with me the most was an odd incident during the quiet, tinkling opening of one piece.

Jarrett is an intense musician, and the audience of about 1,500 people were in absolute silence as he started developing a quiet, tentative, and exploratory improvisation on the upper third of the keyboard, hunched over the instrument in a state of pure concentration, when someone from in the audience made a minor, but uncalled-for noise (I think they may have been taking a picture).

Jarrett immediately ceased playing. He visually interrogated the audience for the source of the distraction and had no problem locating a suspect (a fine pair of ears and great directional hearing, that man!) He asked "did you make that noise?"

"Yes."

"Then please leave, right now. I'm not going to start playing until you go."

A tiny pause, and the guilty one started making his way, shuffling between the seats, out of the theatre.

As he went, Jarrett chatted with the audience: "Now how am I supposed to get back into that?"

Stunned silence, until someone called out "A joint!"

"No! That's how you'd get back into it!" (laughter).

He went back to the piano, and carried on from where he'd left off, perfectly recapturing the mood he'd initially created, and we all settled back to enjoy the piece.

By this time, the noisy person had made his way to the exit, and he slammed the door, loudly, as he left.

Jarrett simply looked up from the keyboard, without stopping, and smiled sweetly at the audience.

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