Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Keith Jarrett (born May 8, 1945 in Allentown, Pennsylvania) is considered one of the most important living jazz piano players. He was a keyboardist for jazz legend Miles Davis and later established a successful solo career in both classical and jazz music.
Jarrett grew up in Allentown with significant exposure to music. In his teens, he learned jazz, immediately excelling in it. He ultimately moved from Allentown to Boston, where he attended the Berklee School of Music and played cocktail piano. After about a year in Boston, Jarrett moved to New York City, where he played at the renowned Village Vanguard. While in New York, Art Blakey hired him to play with his Jazz Messengers band, and he ultimately became a member of the Charles Lloyd Quartet.
When the quartet came to an end, Jarrett was discovered by the legendary Miles Davis, who heard him in a New York City club. Davis invited Jarrett to play keyboards in his group, which he did until later leaving to focus on a solo career.
Solo concerts and the 70s quartets
In 1973, Jarrett began playing his famous solo concerts. The concerts were totally improvised, and one can't always call them either jazz or classical, because of his skill in mixing both. His solo concert albums include Solo Concerts, Köln Concert and La Scala. He commented that his best performances were during the times where he had the least amount of preconception of what he was going to play at the next moment.
From 1971 to 1976, Jarrett led the American "Quartet", along with drummer Paul Motian, reedman Dewey Redman and bass player Charlie Haden. The group was often supplemented by one or two percussionists and recorded about a dozen albums for Atlantic Records, Columbia Records, Impulse! and ECM. Noteworthy recordings included Fort Yawuh, Backhand, Death and the Flower, Shades, Mysteries and The Survivor's Suite. Jarrett's compositions and the strong musical identities of the group members gave this group a very distinct sound. The group's music was an interesting and exciting amalgam of free jazz, straight-ahead post-bop, gospel music, and exotic Middle-Eastern-sounding improvisations.
He also formed what is known as the European Quartet, consisting of saxophonist Jan Garbarek, bassist Palle Danielsson, and drummer Jon Christensen.
Dissatisfied with the classical world, however, Jarrett turned his attention to jazz once again. He asked bassist Gary Peacock and drummer Jack DeJohnette to record an album with standards only. The album was given the name Standards, Volume 1. The trio has continued to record until this day, producing many fine recordings such as Bye Bye Blackbird - A tribute to Miles Davis, The Cure and Standards, Volume 2. The trio regularly tour around globally, and many of the concerts have led to live albums, including Still Live and Up For It - Live at Juan Les Pins.
Jarrett also plays harpsichord, clavichord, organ, and saxophone. Examples of his musical diversity can be heard in particular on his albums Spirits, Invocations, and Spheres. One of the characteristics of Jarrett is his frequent emotive vocalizations and his dance-like movements while playing, which is present in his jazz and improvised solo piano, but absent in all of his classical performances.
Jarrett's biography, authored by Ian Carr, is titled Keith Jarrett: The Man and His Music (ISBN 1084970653).
Jarrett was was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in the late 1990s and was confined to his home for long periods of time. Recently, however, he has he made progress towards full recovery and recorded a new album, The Melody at Night, With You. Unlike his previous work, in this album, he played solo piano not in a classical or completely improvised setting, but rather old songs and standards.
In 2004, Jarrett was awarded the Léonie Sonning Music Award. The prestigious award usually associated with classical musicians and composers has only previously been given to one other jazz musician: Miles Davis. The first person to receive the award in 1959 was Igor Stravinsky.
- Upcoming concerts and other information
- Jarrett on ECM
- The Léonie Sonning Music Foundation (web site in Danish)
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