Acknowledged as one of the foremost improvisational jazz pianists of his generation, Keith Jarrett has delivered a wide-ranging body of work during almost half a century of playing. And in addition to incorporating elements of world music into his output, Jarrett has forged a parallel career giving classical, orchestral and Baroque performances. He was born today in 1945.
Pianist/composer Keith Jarrett born in Allentown, Pennsylvania, USA. First sitting at the piano when aged just three years old, Keith Jarrett received classical training and had appeared in live performance at Madison Square Garden before his sixteenth birthday.
However Jarrett abandoned his study path in 1964, preferring to take his chances on the New York Jazz scene. Gaining employment with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, he then joined the Charles Lloyd Quartet for a three year stint before founding his own piano/bass/drums trio, releasing “Life Between The Exit Signs” in 1967.
Recruited in 1970 by Miles Davis for his electric group, Keith would appear on record with the trumpet maestro and also at the Isle of Wight Festival. Jarrett then began a long association with Manfred Eicher and his ECM Record label, who released his solo disc, “Facing You” in 1971.
That was then followed by “Ruta and Daitya” with fellow Davis band member Jack DeJohnette on drums, an experimental album that saw Jarrett double up on flute and organ in addition to acoustic and electric piano. Adding a tenor saxophonist to his trio, Keith recorded for Impulse! as the American Quartet and led a separate European Quarter including saxophonist Jan Garbarek on ECM.
A long-running trio ensemble of Jarrett, DeJohnette and bassist Gary Peacock then began a productive association recording well-known jazz standards in 1985, having first appeared on record together some eight years earlier. Demonstrating his prowesss by playing every instrumental on his 1985 “Spirits 1 & 2″ album, Jarrett has also been responsible for numerous classical music releases and recitals; also recorded pieces showing his percussion, saxophone and harpsichord prowess.
Keith’s 60th birthday in 2005 was marked by the release of a documentary, “Keith Jarrett: The Art of Improvisation” an in-depth appraisal of his career with input from Jarrett’s biographer Ian Carr. And he continues to play a wide variety of music to great acclaim, even if his uncompromising artistic vision has led to occasional tantrums with disrespectful audiences attempting to photograph him – or committing the cardinal sin of coughing at an inopportune time in his recital.
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And here’s some footage of Keith in action: