The Life of Keith Jarrett

Who Is Keith Jarrett

Keith Jarrett is an  American composer who's expertise is in piano and saxophone. He is considered a very integral person when it comes to the style of jazz, and is also known as a "classical pianist". His discography consists music for soloists, duets, trios, quartets, orchestras,  and jazz bands. On May 8, 1945, Keith Jarrett was born in Allentown, Pennsylvania. At his young age, Jarrett was considered a town child prodigy. At the age of 3, he studied piano, and at the age of 5, he was a guest on Paul Whietman's Goodyear Revue (a television program that aired from 1949 to 1952). At the age of7, Jarrett had peformend his first ever recital, playing songs composed by Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, and more, including his own personal pieces he composed. While in elementary school, Jarret was considered a professional pianist and was also learning to play more instruments, such as vibraphone, drums, and saxophone. As a teenager, Jarret had been the lead pianists for Fred Waring's Pennsylvanians and also went on tour with them as well. 

Blossoming Into His Career

At the age of 19, Keith Jarrett moved to New York to further pursue his career and a musician. He had originally played with the Jazz Messengers, but due to conflicts with Art Blakely (a famous drummer), Jarret decided to leave the group. After this, Jarrett was immediately faced with another opportunity, and that was to perform with Charles Lloyd Quartet. (See top left video). This band had a big impact on Jarret's career, especially since him and his group were recognized by Time and Harper's Magazine. This group also toured around the wold, making appearances in the US as well as Leningrad, London, Moscow, and more. 
Keith Jarrett had eventually ventured off and began to record his own music. He had also began a trio in which he was the leader of, and the other two members were Paul Motian and Charlie Haden. Together, they recorded two albums named Life Between the Exit Signs, and Restoration Run. On these albums, Jarret plays a variety of instruments (saxophone, piano, banjo, recorder, and various percussion instruments.
Music from the Charles Lloyd Quartet & His New Trio

Work with Established Artists

In the late 1960s/early 1970s, Jarrett had gotten the opportunity to work with Miles Davis. With Davis, Jarrett had played not only the piano, but the electric organ. He did this with his fellow piano counterpart, Chick Corea. In 1970, Corea had left Davis' group, and left Jarrett by himself. Because of this, Jarrett had to play both the organ and electric piano. Unfortunately, Jarrett did not enjoy what he was doing, but since it was Miles Davis, he continued to play. Some of the albums Jarrett has appeared on, are Miles Davis at Fillmore and The Cellar For Sessions

Developing His Style and Work

In 1971, Jarrett had finally decided to leave Davis' band, and this was only because of his dear friend, Jack DeJohnette leaving as well. He said ""When Jack left I knew I was going to have to leave ... Nobody knew what Jack knew and could do what he could do simultaneously. That was the end of the flexibility of the band"

After leving Davis, Jarrett created another group of his own, featuring Dewey Redman (Saxophone), Charlie Haden (bassist), and Paul Motian (drummer).  HE began to travel with this group and also began to expand his style of music. Instead of using only jazz styles and devices, he decided to use various tonal and structural devices that were more commonly used within world music.  Around this time, Jarrett also showed off his piano improvisations.

In the 1980s, Jarret's  new focus was on classical music and playing songs from artists such as Bach, Scarlatti, Handel, and more. He had also formed a new trio with Gary Peacock (bass) and Jack Dejohnette (percussion). Wit these two, Jarrett releases numerous albums. Some include but are not limited to Whisper Not (2000), Inside Out(2001), The Out-of-Towners (2004), Yesterdays (2009), Somewhere (2013), and After the Fall (2018). His other concert recordings included Rio (2011), Creation (2015), A Multitude of Angels (2016), and J.S. Bach: The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book I (2019)

Where Is He Now? 

One of Keith Jarrett's most recent performances occurred in Carnegie Hall in 2017. Little did he know, this would be his last performance. In February of 2018, Keith Jarret had suffered from a stroke. Unfortunately, this stroke caused Jarrett to be completely paralyzed on the left side of his body. He says " “My left side is still partially paralyzed. I’m able to try to walk with a cane, but it took a long time for that, took a year or more. And I’m not getting around this house at all, really.” One would think he feels completely upset because of his lack of being able to say, but he is often jovial about it. Keith then says "“But when I hear two-handed piano music, it’s very frustrating, in a physical way. If I even hear Schubert, or something played softly, that’s enough for me. Because I know that I couldn’t do that. And I’m not expected to recover that. The most I’m expected to recover in my left hand is possibly the ability to hold a cup in it. So it’s not a ‘shoot the piano player’ thing. It’s: I already got shot. Ah-ha-ha-ha.”

Work Cited

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