Jazz Music Keith Jarrett - The Art of Improvisation LIVE Music Concerts

Keith Jarrett plays a solo improvisation at “Molde Jazz Festival” in Norway, August 2, 1972

Keith Jarrett plays a solo improvisation at “Molde Jazz Festival” in Norway, August 2, 1972.

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Keith Jarrett: The Melody at Night, with You (1999)- transcriptions book

Keith Jarrett: The Melody at Night, with You – sheet music transcriptions book is now availble for download.

The 1999 recording The Melody at Night, with You is one of Keith Jarrett’s most popular records. Originally created as a gift to his wife, his versions of songs from the Great American Songbook plus the traditional “Shenandoah” are permeated by a special atmosphere that makes the recording one of his most personal audio documents.

Keith Jarrett was in the midst of recovering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), and he made these recordings privately with no intention of sharing them with the public. They are fairly simple, pretty settings of well-known melodies, with almost none of the exploration for which he is famed.

Jarrett dispenses with the jazz soloist’s conventional emphasis on dexterity, the “clever” phrase and the virtuosic sleight-of-hand, and instead strips these songs to their melodic essence to gently lay bare their emotional core.

After many years of preparation, the sheet music for The Melody at Night, with You has now been published by with Jarrett’s approval and the support of Jarrett’s label, ECM.

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The Melody at Night, with You is a solo album by American pianist Keith Jarrett recorded at his home studio in 1998 and released by ECM Records in 1999. It was recorded during his bout with chronic fatigue syndrome and was dedicated to Jarrett’s second and then-wife, Rose Anne: “For Rose Anne, who heard the music, then gave it back to me”.

In an interview in Time magazine in November 1999, he explained

“I started taping it in December 1997, as a Christmas present for my wife. I’d just had my Hamburg Steinway overhauled and wanted to try it out, and I have my studio right next to the house, so if I woke up and had a half-decent day, I would turn on the tape recorder and play for a few minutes. I was too fatigued to do more. Then something started to click with the mike placement, the new action of the instrument,… I could play so soft,… and the internal dynamics of the melodies… of the songs… It was one of those little miracles that you have to be ready for, though part of it was that I just didn’t have the energy to be clever.”

The album contains eight jazz standards, two traditional songs, and, uncharacteristically for Jarrett, only one improvisation (“Meditation”, the second half of track six).

Track listing

All tracks are jazz standards or traditional songs (5 & 9), by other composers, except the second half of track 6 (“Meditation”), which is an improvisation by Jarrett:

  1. I Loves You, Porgy” (George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin, Dubose Heyward) – 5:50
  2. I Got It Bad (and That Ain’t Good)” (Duke Ellington, Paul Francis Webster) – 7:10
  3. “Don’t Ever Leave Me” (Oscar Hammerstein II, Jerome Kern) – 2:47
  4. Someone to Watch over Me” (Gershwin, Gershwin) – 5:05
  5. “My Wild Irish Rose” (Traditional) – 5:21
  6. Blame It on My Youth/Meditation” (Edward Heyman, Oscar Levant/Jarrett) – 7:19
  7. “Something to Remember You By” (Howard Dietz, Arthur Schwartz) – 7:15
  8. Be My Love” (Nicholas Brodszky, Sammy Cahn) – 5:38
  9. Shenandoah” (Traditional) – 5:52
  10. “I’m Through With Love” (Gus Kahn, Fud Livingston, Matty Malneck) – 2:56


Sheet Music Download here.

I Loves You Porgy

Pianist, composer, and bandleader Keith Jarrett is one of the most prolific, innovative, and iconoclastic musicians to emerge from the late 20th century. As a pianist (though that is by no means the only instrument he plays), he literally changed the conversation in jazz by introducing an entirely new aesthetic regarding solo improvisation in concert.

Though capable of playing in a wide variety of styles, Jarrett is grounded in the jazz tradition. He has recorded over 100 albums as a leader in jazz and classical music. He cut his 1967 debut, Life Between the Exit Signs, leading a trio with Paul Motian and Charlie Haden. He played in Miles Davis’ group for a time, and appears on several live recordings, including Live Evil.

Musical Analysis Jazz Music Keith Jarrett - The Art of Improvisation

Keith Jarrett’s improvisional style in solo concerts

Keith Jarrett’s improvisional style in solo concerts

You can’t keep things totally naked and totally free without there becoming some sort of method. I think if you talk to free players they’ll often try to justify their oeuvre over the years, if it’s all free, with some sort of methodology, and I’m not sure that that’s possible if it’s free. . . . But if you do it too often, [and] I can attest to this from solo concerts, architectures build themselves up over time, and they’re harder and harder to work around, and my challenge in solo concerts was . . . not to come up with good music I had come up with before.

Keith Jarrett, interview by Alyn Shipton, BBC Radio 3, broadcast April 30, 2005, as part of a Jazz File series of programs on Keith Jarrett.

In many of the contexts in which improvisation is practiced, it can be said—to borrow a phrase from Nicholas Cook—to be ‘‘relational.’’ Jazz musicians often talk of improvising ‘‘on’’ or ‘‘over’’ the form of a piece or ‘‘the changes,’’ and thus conceive of the act of improvisation in relation to pre-determined structures. This point holds true most especially for jazz which is dependent on song or blues forms, and there have been many analytical studies of improvisation as practiced in relation to such forms. But there is a substantial amount of music in the jazz tradition in which improvisation is not so strictly determined in relation to song structures and chord sequences.

Such music ranges from the work of musicians associated with the free jazz movement (Ornette Coleman, Albert Ayler, and Cecil Taylor, for example), to other slightly more contemporary examples (Anthony Braxton or John Zorn, for instance). In such contexts, it is not that there is an absence of compositional organization, but rather that improvisation is conceived to be less determined by traditional formal structures than in what might be called the conventional bebop model.

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In this article, we’ll explore one such non-conventional context, pianist Keith Jarrett’s solo improvised concerts. While Jarrett himself has claimed that his improvisations avoid any structural planning, we examine a sense in which they employ certain stylistic models, or simply ‘‘styles.’’ This is not to suggest that there is anything pre-planned in these performances, but rather that the ‘‘architectures’’ which Jarrett talks of in the epigraph quotation above may come to function similarly to compositional organization. More specifically, Jarrett’s varied employments of ‘‘styles’’ provide parameters within which improvisation can be practiced.

These architectures consist not only of a number of different styles, but also a large-scale progression through a sequence of particular styles, a device that also has important expressive implications. The epigraph comments by Jarrett also point to another aspect of improvisation in this context, which is a tension that exists between the natural tendency for repetition and the idea of improvisation as the province of the ‘‘unique.’’

Improvisation is concerned with creation at the moment, and so improvisations are regarded as singular products of their moment of creation. Jarrett articulates a desire to avoid the architectures of which he talks, but he also acknowledges the power they can come to hold for the improviser. This suggests that improvisers may employ strategies which
attempt to counteract these tendencies towards repetition.

This interpretation is suggested by John Corbett, who views the idea of risk as an inherent condition in free improvisation, suggesting that improvisers play in order to ‘‘risk the unknown.’’

While we’ll explore some architectural devices of Jarrett’s solo impros, we’ll also examine an instance which might be understood as an attempt to work against those structures, perhaps testifying to this aesthetic of risk.

Keith Jarrett began performing solo piano concerts in 1972. Many commentators have seen this venture as representing the adoption of an epic perspective into jazz. This reading can be seen, for instance, in the writings of TedGioia, who characterized Jarrett’s solo piano concerts as ‘‘titanic improvisations.’’ Similarly, Frank Tirro thought these performances were emblematic of a ‘‘grandiose dimension’’ in jazz. Jarrett was certainly
not the only musician pursuing such a course. As Gernot Blume has discussed, Anthony Braxton had released a number of solo saxophone recordings by 1972, and pianist Cecil Taylor had even begun performing solo concerts in the late 1960s.

In addition, over the space of a year between 1971 and 1972, the German ECM label recorded albums of solo piano music by Jarrett, Paul Bley, and Chick Corea. The result of Jarrett’s session, Facing You, has often been described as a kind of blueprint for the solo concerts. If the scale of Jarrett’s concerts—in which he would improvise an entire performance of solo piano music—seemed to tend towards the epic, the German ECM label’s releases of recordings of these performances signalled a correspondingly weighty undertaking.

The first release, Solo Concerts (1973), was spaced across three LPs, while the ten LPs of the Sun Bear Concerts (1976) provoked charges of egotism in some quarters.

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In terms of his artistic aesthetics, Jarrett’s solo concerts were intimately linked to many contemporary avant-garde performance ideals. The ‘‘new thing’’ associated with musicians like John Coltrane, Albert Ayler, and Ornette Coleman during the 1960s, was a philosophy as much as a musical style. The religious ideals which Coltrane and many other musicians espoused drew their roots not only from a rekindling of the sense of black identity which was an integral part of 1960s black politics, but also from the ideals of the counterculture.

This upsurge in religious rhetoric had essential ties to music making. The result of the connection musicians made between spiritual ideals and music resulted in a conceptualization of performance as a spiritual quest. One of the most famous models of this concept is found articulated through John Coltrane’s seminal 1964 recording, A Love Supreme.

The way in which Jarrett articulated his aesthetic stance in the liner notes to the first recorded solo concert releases from 1973 establishes a direct connection to this ideology: ‘‘I don’t believe that I can create, but that I can be a channel for the Creative. We do believe in the Creator, and so in reality this is His album through me to you, with as little in between as possible on this media-conscious earth.’’

While couched in terms typical of those used by many jazz musicians of the time, this creative philosophy has in Jarrett’s case found a very particular dramatic manifestation in the solo concerts. At these events, Jarrett often lectured audiences on the risks involved in this creative endeavor, the result of which contributed much to the dramatic spectacle of these performances.

The extended scale of the solo performances is directly related to this creative aesthetic, especially through the manner in which the process of improvisation is itself foregrounded in the performances. In Jarrett’s case, the idea of extended form is a consequence of predicating the entire musical ethos of such performances on the unhindered obeyance of the improvisatory process.

That is to say, the solo concerts extend the kinds of ideals of self-actualization and spiritual quest present in free jazz, while making such extended performances a virtue through which the very process of creation takes center stage. It is from this particular perspective that we want to consider Jarrett’s solo piano improvisations, a context in which the whole cultural import of improvisation comes to take center stage.

Styles in the Solo Concerts

Not so long ago, pianists used to fit comfortably into bags. You either played funk or you played free, right-handed ‘‘trumpet’’ style or locked-hand block chords. Keith Jarrett does all these things.

Bob Palmer, Rolling Stone, 197217

As the above assessment of Keith Jarrett’s 1972 solo piano album, Facing You, suggests, when Jarrett emerged as a major voice on the jazz scene towards the end of the 1960s, his individuality was perceived to stem from the manner in which his voice incorporated many diverse facets of the jazz vocabulary. This notion of Jarrett as the musician who speaks in different musical dialects has emerged as one of the most important themes in writings on the pianist.

A prime example can be seen in the work of the musicologist Gernot Blume, who describes Jarrett as a musician who ‘‘traverses a wide musical terrain in pursuit of a variety of styles, traditions and forms of expression.’’ Nowhere is this theme more prominent in both critical and scholarly writings on Jarrett than in relation to the solo concerts. David Ake’s recent discussion of Jarrett serves as a good illustration.

In his 2002 book, Jazz Cultures, Ake talks of the ‘‘distinct categories’’ which can be heard in the solo concerts, including ‘‘a seamless blend of quasi-Romantic rhapsodies, diatonic folk-like passages, ‘free’ counterpoint, angular atonality, extended techniques (plucking or strumming the piano strings, striking the frame, etc.), and protracted ostinatos.’’

This kind of description of Jarrett’s performances extends throughout reviews of the solo concerts. For example, in 1982, the critic John Fordham noted that Jarrett’s ‘‘favorite devices are rolling gospelly figures over which the right-hand swerves and wreathes, harp-like slow pieces, baroque semi-classical interludes and—on this occasion—such a trancelike
flight into soul music that you felt he was about to ascend into the tastefully stripped pine roof of the hall.’’20 Similarly, in 1977, the critic Richard Williams claimed that Jarrett was ‘‘the most consonant of players and his unbroken episodic ramblings consist in the main of extemporised ballad melodies which flirt with preciousness, hard-hammered sequences derived from black church music (rhythmically vivacious but harmonically tedious).’’

While the sheer diversity of the reference points cited here is inevitably of interest, what is of particular note is the way in which the language used imbues the styles mentioned with a structural significance. There are ‘‘pieces’’ and ‘‘interludes,’’ terms that have a structural significance. These writers clearly hear styles as instantiated in identifiable passages of music, which form constituent parts of the improvisations.

Jarrett’s improvisations appear to inhabit a musical world which can be mapped out in terms of specific stylistic reference points. Gernot Blume’s view of this aspect of Jarrett’s music is worth quoting here, since it identifies the sense in which Jarrett’s improvisations seem to listeners to invoke convention:

Jarrett recreates a set of repeatable procedures and formulaic practices that reinstate the effects of idiomatic delineations. He has to create a style out of his mélange of styles to communicate to his audiences within an identifiable conceptual framework. Such a framework of conventions instills in the listener a feeling of familiarity with Jarrett’s music, an element of recognition and understanding of his structural devices and artistic prerogatives. (Blume, Musical Practices, 114–15)

Understanding Jarrett’s improvisations seems to necessitate understanding the conventions and styles which Blume refers to, essentially identifying a series of reference points from which to map out the territory within which Jarrett operates.

In many ways, this is a surprisingly traditional approach. In fact, it is little different from Leonard Ratner’s theory of musical topics in the Viennese Classical tradition. Harold Powers has described this concept of musical topics in the following manner:

Each topic either implies or characterizes a recognizable feature of music from a particular social context. The topics are terminological tags naming kinds and manners of music familiar to a particular society of musical consumers. They are the verbal equivalents for items in a musical vocabulary.

Harold Powers, ‘‘ReadingMozart’s Music: Text and Topic, Syntax and Sense,’’ Current Musicology 57 (Spring 1995), 5–44.)

From this perspective, those descriptions of Jarrett’s playing make absolute sense; they identify commonly understood elements in Jarrett’s musical language and label them in stylistic terms, much as the topics which Ratner found in the music of Mozart and Haydn. Just as the ‘‘manners’’ of music that Ratner identified formed constituent parts of a compositional language, so Jarrett’s styles are constituent parts of the language which he brings to these improvisations. Topical theory also points out that these topics, or styles, can prove to be the very things through which music means— or, rather, the nuts and bolts of an expressive language.

Jarrett’s improvisations have meaning because so much of his music is heard as a reference to other musics. Two qualifications are necessary at this point before proceeding any further. First, the styles we want to consider reflect my work on a specific period of Jarrett’s recordings, namely those made in 1973 and released on the LP Solo Concerts. It is unrealistic to imagine that Jarrett’s playing would not have developed over a number of years, but we do not examine these developments in this limited article. Second, it is not my intention to attempt an exhaustive classification of Jarrett’s improvisations into a series of different styles.

Part of the reason we adopt the term ‘‘style’’ rather than ‘‘topic’’ has to do with how such classes can be identified in a piece of music. Much of the application of topical theory to music of the eighteenth century has been able to specify very clear-cut divisions between the presentation of different topics. However, in Jarrett’s music this is simply not the case, as will become clear in the following discussion where we identify and explore three particular styles.

Ballad Style

The term ‘‘ballad’’ has a very distinct meaning in jazz aside from its connotations in terms of other musical traditions. The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz describes a ballad as ‘‘a slow sentimental lovesong . . . [T]hey are performed at a relaxed tempo, in a soft intimate style, and lack the rhythmic drive and intensity of four-beat jazz. The word is often used, loosely, of any slow piece, regardless of its form, style, or subject matter.’’

(Robert Witmer, ‘‘Ballad,’’ in The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, ed. Barry Kernfeld (London: Macmillan Press, 1988; reprint, New York: St. Martin, 1995), 55–56.)

As this definition suggests, jazz musicians generally take a rather different approach to a ballad than to an up-tempo piece. By definition, ballads lack the propulsive swing feel of a faster tune. At the same time, melodicism also plays a particularly important role. Many jazz musicians additionally place an emphasis on empathizing with the sentiment of the lyrics of the original song when playing a ballad.

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The musical extract in Example 1 comes from the opening of the 1973 Bremen concert, as released on Jarrett’s Solo Concerts album.

One of the most immediately distinctive features of a Jarrett ballad is seen in the piano figuration, in which the melodic line in the right-hand part is supported by broken-chord and arpeggiated figures in the left. The left-hand figures never settle into one particular figurative pattern, but instead shift between a number of different types of formations.

A Jarrett ballad also has a distinct rhythmic approach, drawing in part on the kind of rhythmic license granted to musicians playing a ballad in a group context, or perhaps the sort of approach a pianist would take in improvising a solo introduction. Ballad passages are full of rubato playing, whereby the length of the beat expands and contracts to create a subtle sense of ebb and flow. Rubato is not employed to give particular poignancy to phrase endings or cadential points, but rather permeates the
entire passage.

This sense of flexible time also applies to the harmonic motion in this case. In performances of a jazz standard with a rhythm section, the chord changes generally move at a regular rate, usually in measures or half-measures. In a Jarrett solo ballad though, the rate of change varies subtly; there is a continual expansion and contraction of the period between each change in Example 1, resulting in a fluid harmonic rhythm.

A ballad also inhabits a very particular kind of world, one that is distinguished by largely familiar and conventional types of short-term harmonic progressions. There are many ii-V or ii-V-I patterns, harmonic building blocks, which are a formative part of the jazz language. On a larger scale, Jarrett’s ballad passages avoid establishing a tonal center, always breaking off to move in a new direction as soon as any cadential
inference might be drawn.

In Example 1, for instance, the opening A minor chord (with a phrygian inflection—a distinctive Jarrett trait) functions as the starting point for a series of harmonic excursions, which foray ever further away from the point of departure.

Thus, the first segment moves through a ii-V-I progression to B-flat at bar 6, and then back onto A minor at bars 8-9. The following passage moves further afield, through C major, and then a sequence of descending progressions lead through flat keys (E-flat and D-flat) onto C, and then quite suddenly onto A-flat. While this opening A minor chord serves an important function as a launching point for these harmonic excursions, it never acts as a tonic key in a functional sense.

It is evident from Jarrett’s solo concert recordings that ballad passages seem to play a particular role at the opening of improvisations, and this also has expressive implications. Given what we have called the foregrounding of improvisation at the heart of the spectacle of the solo concerts, ballad passages seem to represent the opening of an improvisation in a very specific way.

These harmonic excursions we have referred to, and the particular way in which a ballad circles around certain diatonic areas while abstaining from establishing a tonic, are all musical features which performative enact the process of improvisation. As listeners, we are drawn to hear such musical features as indicative of the creative process; the gradual unfolding of a
ballad represents, for example, an improviser gradually constructing a musical world in which to work. The key term here is ‘‘representation.’’

We are not trying to suggest in any literal phenomenological sense that we can gain access to the process of improvisation through the music, but rather that we hear a certain representation of that process in the music.
Folk Ballad Style While we located the Jarrett ballad style in terms of certain precedents in the jazz tradition, the style that we term a ‘‘folk ballad’’ indicates the extent to which the musical language of the solo concerts extends its generic reference points rather wider. With a folk ballad passage, there is a certain convergence between Jarrett’s language and the genre of folk-rock prevalent during the 1960s, as exemplified particularly by the music of Bob Dylan.

As Gernot Blume has discussed, the nature of this influence is nowhere clearer than on Jarrett’s 1968 album Restoration Ruin, which was an attempt (although a rather unsuccessful one) to present his multi-instrumental talents in a context much closer to that of singer/songwriter than jazz musician.

As Blume points out, in this process, Jarrett has notably absorbed
influences from specific music styles into his own voice. Folk ballad episodes are characterized by a particular kind of piano figuration,
consisting generally of arpeggio-like, broken-chord patterns in the left hand, usually employing roots, fifths, and sometimes tenths as well. This kind of left-hand pattern is very much redolent of piano figuration from the classical repertoire, but equally it can be heard as analogous to a guitarist’s arpeggiated chordal strumming.

Unlike a ballad, this type of figuration is coupled to a steady pulse, resulting in a feel of straight eighth notes. Folk ballad passages take a very different harmonic approach from Jarrett’s ballad passages, employing diatonic triads free from the extensions and alterations typical of ballad style. Example 2 shows the opening of a folk ballad episode from the Lausanne concert, with the establishment of left-hand figuration coupled to a sequential harmonic motion: B-flat major – C major – D minor – C major.

This particular harmonic pattern is one which occurs again and again in the solo concerts, with the distinctive trait being a sequential move from a major chord to the minor chord a third above, or vice versa. Also, typical for a folk ballad passage is that while B-flat is established as the ‘‘home’’ chord, the modality is actually F major, something which becomes clearer later in the passage.

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Much like a ballad passage, there is always a strong emphasis on melody in a folk ballad episode, but the sense of phrasing is quite different. The regularity of the underlying harmonic motion (in contrast to that in a ballad passage) is matched by a melodic approach which stresses working out a simple melodic idea. In this instance, bars 2 and 3 of the excerpt are played as two separate but neatly matched phrases, with the following two bars comprising an answering phrase doubled in length.

While later on in the passage, Jarrett spins the music off into harmonic and figurative patterns more expansive than this opening, the strong impression of order given by the establishment of this passage contrasts sharply to the ballad style.

In the context of the solo concert from which it comes, this particular folk ballad passage follows on from a ballad passage which has lasted some four minutes. By placing the folk ballad after this exploratory opening ballad passage, an expressive significance becomes clear. We have suggested that the ballad episodes that so typically open a Jarrett improvisation express a gradual unfolding, which in many ways mirrors our sense as listeners of the improvisatory process; the growth in confidence and increasing assurance with which musical risks are taken.

In his study of the late music of Beethoven, Robert Hatten suggests that topics in the classical tradition can articulate dramatic oppositions, and he focuses in particular on the idea of ‘‘expressive genre.’’ As he describes them, these genres are ‘‘based on . . . [and] move through, broad expressive states oppositionally defined as topics in the classical style.’’

In other words, expressive effect arises from the juxtaposition of topics, and the progression from one to another. The progression from ballad to folk ballad style is what might be called an expressive genre in Hatten’s terminology. It marks out a change in musical state, from what might loosely be described as unstable to stable.

This progression is one which is particularly characteristic of Jarrett’s solo concerts and seems to constitute a long-term strategy, whether borne of habit or careful planning.

Blues Vamp Style

Jarrett is well known for employing one particular type of stylistic passage in his solo concert performances: long vamp-driven sequences. Vamp passages have none of the more conventional harmonic or rhythmic progressions typically found in a Jarrett ballad. This vamp-based aspect of Jarrett’s conception is one which surfaces in a whole variety of musical contexts beyond the solo concerts, and his use of this texture extends from his time with Charles Lloyd towards the end of the 1960s, through
groups now known as the ‘‘American’’ and ‘‘European’’ bands, to his longstanding trio with Jack DeJohnette and Gary Peacock. Blues vamps are one particular subset of the wider category of ostinato passages as they occur in the solo concerts.

These passages are vamp-driven, while containing strong blues stylistics through dominant-seventh harmonies and other typical blues inflections (flattened third and fifth degrees, for instance). The other subtypes of ostinato passage tend towards either diatonic or other kinds of modal configurations, both types of which are also evidenced on these 1973 recordings.

We use the term ‘‘vamp’’ instead of ostinato for a particular reason. While there is generally some form of repeated figure used in these passages, Jarrett varies such figures extensively, and they can take a number of different forms while still retaining a recognizable identity. The vamps that Jarrett employs in these passages exemplify a particular aspect of his playing, namely the ability to generate a strong rhythmic momentum by creating a texture of sometimes three or more distinct voices.

In the instance shown in Example 3, the vamp consists of an F-C7 progression, moving every half bar, and this progression is retained throughout this passage. The lower right-hand part generally works within the pentatonic grouping C-D-E-G-A, while the left hand quickly develops a distinct rhythm which counterpoints the motion in the right hand. In passages such as this one, the rhythmic feel Jarrett employs is much closer to a straight feel than a triplet-based swing approach.

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The criticism most commonly levelled at the vamp-based aspects of Jarrett’s playing hinges on a kind of stasis texture in which little seems to change. In a 1977 review, for example, Richard Williams remarked that Jarrett’s improvisations included ‘‘lengthy spells during which inspiration deserts him, and he merely toys with a simple vamp until a new idea arrives.’’

These kinds of criticisms center on absence, and primarily on an absence of harmonic development and rhythmic variety. As much as anything, Williams’s comments betray a rather antiquated and narrow aesthetic notion of music. What is explicit in Williams’s case is the idea that musical stasis equates in some way to a stasis in the creative process. The logical
conclusion of such an argument might seem to be that the rate of development of new ideas in an improvisation can be taken as a sure indicator of the level of inspiration at which the performer is operating.

This view is hardly an acceptable way of evaluating improvisation. As we’ll suggest, blues vamp passages in the solo concerts can be understood as expressive in a much richer sense than Williams’s comments might suggest.
The essential quality to these passages in the solo concerts is ‘‘groove.’’ We use the term groove here as indicative not only of a certain kind of musical phenomenon (repeated patterns rhythmically articulated in such a way as to create a strong forward momentum) but of a physical, bodily experience.

This physical attachment is easily seen by watching musicians playing almost any groove-based music, and by observing the wide variety of ways in which groove is expressed physically in the experience of music, whether through dancing or tapping of feet. Steven Feld talks of how ‘‘getting into the groove also describes a feelingful participation, a positive
physical and emotional attachment. . . . A groove is a comfortable place to be.’’

In her 1996 book, Saying Something: Jazz Improvisation and Interaction, Ingrid Monson talks of the emotional and interpersonal aspects of the way jazz musicians talk about groove. She draws specific attention to the idea that playing in the groove is almost like letting the music ‘‘play itself.’’

In his performances, Jarrett’s body tends to reinforce this idea of groove as physically-grounded, through motions which may articulate pulse (the tapping of feet, sometimes against the sustain pedal of the instrument) or may instead seem to represent the experience of the performer (standing up from the piano stool). In the latter case, these physical gestures can be
viewed as outward manifestations of interior states. We have discussed these aspects of Jarrett’s playing at length elsewhere, suggesting that they are crucial to the expressive effect of his music.

Understood in this sense, a vamp passage in Jarrett’s music may be static harmonically, and apparently show little of the onward momentum and
exploration of a ballad, but the groove enacts a physical engagement between improviser and music. Indeed, it specifically expresses a quality of exhilaration.

Conformity and Transgression: Hearing the Improvised

So far we have explored some patterns in Jarrett’s solo improvisations which may be akin to the architectures mentioned in the epigraph quotation at the outset of this article. One particular architecture is of concern here—that is, the progression of styles which forms an expressive genre in the sense we indicated earlier. This particular progression occurs in many of the solo concert recordings, although not always in quite the same form as in the Lausanne concert, which we’ll discuss here. In the first part of the Lausanne concert, this progression moves from a ballad passage at the outset, through a folk ballad episode (which we discussed briefly above in Example 2), and then into a blues vamp passage (my Example 3 above).

This is naturally a reductive kind of description, and certainly the musical trajectory is not quite as linear as this might imply. When expressive considerations are taken into account, this progression through styles represents a move from harmonic/rhythmic uncertainty towards the stability and affirmation of the groove.

The moment in this improvisation which particularly interests me lies just after the end of that progression; the move from the blues vamp into a more open rhapsodictype section. While a groove may be expressive of a kind of physically-grounded exhilaration, it also has clear musical boundaries. Harmonic and rhythmic stability creates expectations; it creates a very clear sense of what the normative is. Any musical element which does not fall within these normative boundaries will be highly
marked, and heard as somehow ‘‘outside.’’

For the improviser, this can mean that a groove such as this blues vamp may be hard to break out of, specifically because of the expectations that it creates. Does the improviser simply stop and abandon the groove, or does he attempt to gradually subvert or transform a part of the texture in order to effect a transition of sorts? For the listener, the presence of these boundaries may actually heighten the expectation of change after a time; they may come to speculate on the potential difficulty of effecting a move away from this area.

As shown in Example 4, at 99 390 (some two-plus minutes into the vamp passage), the left hand starts playing ascending scales in octaves, with the use of a little sustain pedal blurring the texture. While the vamp is based on F and C chords, this ascending line employs an F Lydian mode. The result is that the sharpened fourth degree (B natural) in this line clashes with the B-flats which sometimes appear in the vamp.

This ascending line also disrupts the vamp in rhythmic terms. The bass line has a kind of stuttering effect, created by the distance between each step changing between a dotted eighth note and a quarter note. The dotted eighth division is the more used of the two, while the right hand retains a quarter-note division of the 4/4 bar. This device creates a kind of temporal dissonance, as if the two hands are playing at different speeds. The disruption of the groove seems to cause the whole vamp passage to disintegrate.

This effect becomes particularly obvious as the right-hand patterns begin to fragment into isolated chords and single notes. After some time, these patterns settle into a dotted eighth-note division (towards the end of Example 4), which aligns to the tempo being articulated in the left hand. It is as if this rhythmic conflict is settled in favor of the dotted eighth-note pulse. Even from this point onwards, the direction seems unsure. A little later, the right-hand lines become blurred with the use of the sustain pedal as the notes meld into a wash of sound.

There is an obvious musical tension in this passage between the rhythmic and harmonic function of the left-hand lines and the vamp figures in the right hand. In terms of the normative musical strategies of Jarrett’s vamp style, this left-hand line stands out as decidedly other. It challenges the harmonic and rhythmic primacy of the vamp by confrontation, rupturing the figuration of the ostinato.

The musical implications of this intrusion seem considerable; the left-hand lines derail the whole momentum of the groove, resulting in the disintegration of the musical fabric. The drama of this particular passage stems from more than just the musical effect of this clash between the two parts. Those left-hand lines represent a physical intrusion into the music.

In contrast to the rest of the blues vamp where the left hand remains in
essentially the same position over the keyboard, it now moves in a completely different way, ascending and descending in irregular cycles. Those continuing octave ascents threaten to encroach on the very territory still guarded by the right hand. The key point is this: at this moment, the improviser is heard to intrude into the musical discourse, forcing the improvisation in a new direction by disrupting the rhythmic momentum of the vamp.

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This example represents what we’re going to call a moment of ‘‘transgression.’’ The transgression is a breaking of the normative expectations of the vamp. This device is heard as a clear and intentional disruption to the flow of the music. It is a kind of dramatic rhetorical gesture in which the scaffolding that holds the music together is
dismantled, or rather swept deliberately aside. This gesture might be understood to represent what the critic John Corbett calls a quest for ‘‘reterritory,’’ or, rather, a deliberate courting of the unknown by rejecting the familiar. The result is that at this moment the presence of the improviser comes to the foreground.

In other words, the musical intrusion of the left hand into the vamp functions as a sign of the intrusion of the improviser into the music. This is significant in a number of respects. First, in the solo concerts, Jarrett encourages the audience to make a considerable investment in the performance, emphasizing their role as participants and not just observers. Jarrett has often emphasized that this investment relates to the risks he
takes when performing in this context.

Second, there is the ideology out of which the solo concerts come. As explained earlier, this ideology leans towards a romanticized conception of performance as motivated by an external, higher source of inspiration. Taken in this way, the presence of the improviser in the music at this
point accentuates the aesthetic of risk, and it points attention away from a
romanticized conception of improvisation, towards a more physically-grounded performer-centred one. Indeed, this might even be considered as a kind of ‘‘breaking of the spell’’; the presence of the improviser at this moment shatters any illusions that this music exists beyond the physical body that produces it.

We suggested that the analysis of Jarrett’s solo improvisations and their
underlying architecture might involve the identification of the fundamental stylistic templates which he appears to draw on. These templates seem to function as something akin to what Jeff Pressing calls ‘‘referents,’’ as they serve to provide parameters which guide the generation of music.

By using styles in recognizable figuration and progressions, Jarrett sets up patterns which not only create expressive effects, but which can then be transgressed in order to convey the taking of risk. Because of a performance context in which the spectacle of improvisation takes center stage, this music is heard to be improvised, and is heard as a reflection of the creative process itself.

For this reason, moments of transgression may have particular dramatic impact and are likely to be perceived as representing Jarrett leaving behind the familiar in favor of the unknown. In order to study forms of improvised music such as this, it is perhaps necessary to construct an analytical strategy which is capable of dealing both with conformance and digression, and to recognize the expressive effects that music like this can have.

Keith Jarrett – Tokyo Solo 2002 Encores

Jazz Music Keith Jarrett - The Art of Improvisation LIVE Music Concerts

Keith Jarrett Trio – On Green Dolphin Street (LIVE)

Keith Jarrett Trio (LIVE)- On Green Dolphin Street with sheet music download.

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Musical Analysis Keith Jarrett - The Art of Improvisation

What is Jazz Improvisation? Keith Jarrett – A musical analysis of “Stella by Starlight” (1/2)

Table of Contents
  • What is Jazz Improvisation? by Keith Jarrett (1/2)
  • Keith Jarrett -The Art of Improvisation
    • Idiosyncrasies
    • Biography
    • Awards
  • Jazz Sheet Music download.
  • Musical Analysis: Stella by Starlight
    • Form and Melody
    • Rhythm
    • Harmony
    • Opening melody section
    • 3.3 Piano solo
    • Form
    • Rhythm
    • Harmony
    • Melody
    • The role of the left hand
    • Closing melody section
    • The cadenza
    • Overview and Summary

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What is Jazz Improvisation? Keith Jarrett – A musical analysis of “Stella by Starlight” (1/2)

Keith Jarrett (born May 8, 1945) is an American jazz and classical music pianist and composer.

Jarrett started his career with Art Blakey, moving on to play with Charles Lloyd and Miles Davis. Since the early 1970s he has enjoyed a great deal of success as a group leader and a solo performer in jazz, jazz fusion, and classical music. His improvisations draw from the traditions of jazz and other genres, especially Western classical music, gospel, blues, and ethnic folk music.

In 2003 Jarrett received the Polar Music Prize, the first recipient of both the contemporary and classical musician prizes,[2] and in 2004 he received the Léonie Sonning Music Prize. His album The Köln Concert (1975) became the best-selling piano recording in history.

Jarrett has also played harpsichord, clavichord, organ, soprano saxophone, and drums. He often played saxophone and various forms of percussion in the American quartet, though his recordings since the breakup of that group have rarely featured these instruments. On the majority of his recordings in the last 20 years, he has played acoustic piano only. He has spoken with some regret of his decision to give up playing the saxophone, in particular.

On April 15, 1978, Jarrett was the musical guest on Saturday Night Live. His music has also been used on many television shows, including The Sopranos on HBO. The 2001 German film Bella Martha (English title: Mostly Martha), whose music consultant was ECM founder and head Manfred Eicher, features Jarrett’s “Country”, from the European quartet album My Song and “U Dance” from the album Tribute.

Keith Jarrett -The Art of Improvisation


One of Jarrett’s trademarks is his frequent, loud vocalizations, similar to those of Glenn Gould, Thelonious Monk, Charles Mingus, Erroll Garner, Oscar Peterson, Ralph Sutton, Willie “The Lion” Smith, Paul Asaro, and Cecil Taylor. Jarrett is also physically active while playing. These behaviors occur in his jazz and improvised solo performances, but are for the most part absent whenever he plays classical repertory. Jarrett has noted his vocalizations are based on involvement, not content, and are more of an interaction than a reaction.


Keith Jarrett was born in Allentown, Pennsylvania. on the 8th of May 1945. He started piano lessons around the age of 3 after it had been discovered that he had perfect pitch, and an ability to improvise. He began performing publicly by age 5, by 7 was writing melodies and improvising on them, and shortly before his a'” birthday gave a concert which featured the usual classical pieces by composers such as Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, Mendelssohn and Grieg, along with compositions of his own.

From about the age of 11 he began playing dance music and jazz, and at 15 was playing around town in his own group. At 16, he left school, and before long was working and touring professionally, and in 1g62 made his first recording with a big band. In 1963, through a scholarship from DownBeat magazine, Jarrett moved to Boston and studied at the Berklee
School of Music. A year later he moved to New York, and there he joined Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, recording his first fully fledged jazz album with them in 1966.This album, called either Buttercorn Lady or Get the Message, shows Jarrett at the age of 20 to be a remarkably mature jazz performer, highly creative, with brilliant technique, and displaying advanced rhythmic concepts.

Shortly after this, he joined saxophonist Charles Lloyd’s quartet for a stay of 3 years which would prove to be a pivotal career move. This group, though essentially a jazz band, embraced a wide range of styles and along with jazz standards and free improvisation, would play rock-oriented songs, and versions of Beatles tunes. Their eclecticism and Lloyd’s
connections with eastern spirituality, meant that they appealed to a wider audience than is normally the case with a jazz group, and during the “Flower Power” era of the late 60s they gained wide exposure, often playing in the rock venues of the day. Apart from the exposure
that Jarrett also gained, he was often given a solo spot where he would improvise freely, and this sowed the seeds for the solo piano improvisations he became renowned for later on.

Following his departure from this band, he began working and recording with his own trio before being asked to join Miles Davis’s group around 1970, where he stayed for 18 months. Here he played electric keyboards in what was essentially a funk-rock band which, as was usually the case with Davis’s bands, allowed for great personal freedom and much experimentation.

In 1972, his first solo piano album Facing You was released, and the following year he began playing solo concerts where he would simply improvise freely with no pre-determined songs or structures, sometimes for an hour at a time. The music would embrace the huge range of
styles that Jarrett had absorbed, from long ruminations on a single chord using eastern scales, to driving gospel inspired sections, to complex and dissonant harmonic excursions influenced by 20th century classical composers, to plucking the strings on the piano or hitting the body of it as though it was a drum. This was quite revolutionary at the time, and through the eclectic nature of the music, he was able to draw a large audience which went way beyond the confines of hard-core jazz listeners. The most well known recording of this side of his output is The Koln Concert, recorded in 1975, and to this day, representative of the style
that many people associate with him.

During this period Jarrett also maintained 2 distinctly different quartets, one American and the other European, both of which featured mainly his compositions, the European group being particularly influential. Jarrett was also involved in many other projects during the mid to late 70’s which are too numerous to mention but included writing orchestral music, solo piano music and recording improvisations on a church organ.

In the early 80s he began to perform classical music, playing concertos by more contemporary composers such as Bartok, Stravinsky and Barber, then in 1987 he recorded his first classical album, J.S. Bach’s The Well Tempered Clavier book 1, and has since that time recorded many more classical works, including Bach’s Goldberg Variations (on harpsichord}, Handel’s Keyboard Suites, Shostakovitch’s Preludes and Fugues, and a
number of Mozart’s piano concertos.

In 1983 he formed his “Standards Trio” with Gary Peacock on bass and Jack DeJohnette on drums, to concentrate largely on the standard jazz repertoire, and since that time they have continued to perform and have recorded 16 albums and 3 videos. In 1986, Jarrett also recorded an album of clavichord improvisations The Book of Ways, which demonstrates his
incredible diversity and improvisational prowess, with many pieces sounding like compositions from the baroque and pre-baroque eras.

In 1996 he became ill with chronic fatigue syndrome and was forced to retire from performing for a few years, but by 1999 he had recovered enough to record a solo album and was again actively performing with his trio, something which he continues to do to this day.

To summarize, Keith Jarrett has embraced many of the forms of m_usic making from the 20th century, and some from before, in both improvised and composed contexts, has been highly influential in the jazz world and beyond, and at the age of 58 still remains a vital figure.


He has received many awards during his career and these include:

– The French Grand Prix du Disque 1972 (for the album Expectations);
The Grand Prix du Festival Montreux 1973 (for the album Facing You);
Record of the Year 1974 from Downbeat magazine (Critics poll) and Time magazine, (for the album Solo Concerts);
The Deutscher Schallplattenpreis 1975 and Record of the Year 1975/76 from Jazz Forum (for the album Belonging);
Album of the Year 1977 from Melody Maker magazine and the Deutscher Schallplattenpreis 1978 (for the album The Survivors Suite);
The Grosser Deutscher Schallplattenpreis 1979 and the Silverdisk Award from Swing Journal 1979 (for the album Sun Bear Concerts);
Record of the Year 1979 from Jazz Forum (for the album My Song);
Album of the Decade from Stereo magazine Readers Poll (for the album The Koln Concert);
Best Jazz Pianist 1982 from Keyboard magazine;
Record of the Year 1983 from Audio (Germany) {for the album Standards Vo/.1);
Record of the year 1985 from Jazz Life critics poll (Japan) (for the album Standards Vo/.2);
Jazz musician of the year 1986 from HiFi Vision (Germany), and Album of the year 1986 from Swing Journal (for the album Standards Live);
Prix du President de Ia Republique, Academia Charles Cros: Best recording of the year, all categories (1990) (for the album Tribute);
Best Classical Keyboardist 1991 from Keyboard magazine editors poll;
Classical CD of the year 1992 from CD Review (for the album Shostakovich Preludes & Fugues);
Pianist of the year and album of the year 1996 from Downbeat (Critics poll) (for the album At The Blue Note);
Best Acoustic Group (The Standards Trio) 1998 and 1999 from Downbeat (Readers poll);
Pianist of the year 2000-2002 from Downbeat (Critics poll);
The Polar Music Prize (Sweden) 2003.

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Musical Analysis: Stella by Starlight

The overall character is probably best described as romantic and slow moving, with sophisticated harmonies that very much reflect the song and Jarrett’s classical sensibilities. It is played with a pronounced rubato, and though there are a number of pauses, it has a definite sense of flow. It begins reflectively, and after stating the melody, becomes more passionate in the development section which follows. Furthermore, it then returns to its former mood with the final melody statement.

Form and Melody

It is 104 bars long, runs for approximately three and a half minutes, and has a form which is comprised of:

  1. A brief introductory statement (5 bars);
  2. A melody statement (19 bars- some bars are condensed, and the last 8 bars become
    the first 8 of the first development section);
  3. Three improvised development sections (16, 16, and 29 bars);
  4. Another melody statement (10 bars – the first 12 bars of the song with some bars condensed);
  5. A coda (9 bars).
    In the melody sections the original melody is not strictly adhered to, but the harmony is retained, and except for one instance (at bars 50- 53 where the melody is in the alto part [see ex.1 ]), the melody throughout is in the soprano part.
    Ex. 1 The melody moves briefly form the soprano to the alto part
    (Bars 50-53- straight lines show the path of the melody).
keith jarrett sheet music

Cohesion in the development sections is achieved by the use of harmonies derived from the song, and the utilization of rhythmic motifs, which form the basis of various melodic episodes that occur within each section. Each section concludes with a V – I cadence. The two episodes in the first section are both eight bars long, but from then on there is no discernible
pattern in their lengths or groupings, and they vary in length from four to eleven bars. The episodes are as follows:
1st development sections:

Bars 25-32, 1″ episode: – This is based on motif “A”(see ex.2). After it is first stated5 (bars 25, 26 [includes crotchet pick up from previous bar]), it is then shortened by a crotchet (bars 27,28), then by 3 crotchets (bar 29), then by a crotchet (bars 30,31 ), then displaced (the crotchet pick up is on beat 2 rather than beat 4) and shortened by a crotchet (31,32);
Bars 33-40, 2″” episode:- This is based on motif “B”(see ex.2), and also uses “A”.

After it is first stated (bars 33,34 ), it’s second half is played (bar 35 [the last crotchet is tied over to the next bar), it is then shortened by 2 crotchets (bars 36,37), then “A” is played (bars 38-40 [it is lengthened by 2 crotchets]);

2nd development section:
Bars 41-45, 1″ episode:- This is based on motif “B”. After it is first stated (bar 41 [it actually starts in 40]), it is repeated twice (bars 42-45 [note how the first two statements again have the last crotchet tied over]);
Bars 46-56, 2″” episode:- This is based on motif “C” (see ex.2). After it is stated (bar 46), it is repeated twice (bars 48,50 [bars in between contain pick up notes]), then played as part of change to 3/4 (bars 52,53 [which means that the pick up at 53 is lengthened by a crotchet]), then lengthened by 4 crotchets as part of the change to 5/4 (bars 54,55);

3rd development section:
Bars 57-60, 1″ episode:- This is based on motif “0” (see ex.2). After it is stated (bars 57,58 [incl. crotchet pick up from prev. bar]), it is repeated (bars 59,60);
Bars 61-64, 2″” episode: -This is based on motif “01” (see ex.2). After it is stated (bar 61 [incl. crotchet pick up from prev. bar]), its pick up is lengthened by a crotchet as part of the change to 4/4 (bar 62) and it is lengthened by a crotchet (bars 63,64);
Bars 65-69, 3″‘ episode: -This is based on motif “02” (see ex.2). After it is stated (bars 65-67 [incl. 2 crotchet pick up from prev. bar]), it is shortened by 2 crotchets (bars 68,69);

Bars 70-74, 4′” episode:- This is based on motif “01”. After it is stated_ (bar 70 [incl. pick up from prev. bar]), its pick up is lengthened by a crotchet (bar 71) and it is repeated (bar 72).
Bar 73 uses 2 crotchet pick up but phrase is truncated;
Bars 75-82, 5′” episode: -This is based on motif “E” (see ex.2). After it is stated (bars 75,76 [incl. crotchet pick up from prev. bar]), it is lengthened by a crotchet (bars 77-79 [a part of the changed time sig.]), then its pick up is lengthened by 2 crotchets (bar 80) and it’s first half lengthened by 2 crotchets (bars 81 ,82). Bars 83-85, cadence.

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The main aspects here are the use of varied time signatures, and (as can be seen from the above analysis), the manipulation of the motifs, mainly through the use of augmentation, diminution, and permutation via the changed meters. There is also substantial syncopation present, as a number of the figures feature anticipations of a full beat (bars 35, 41, 55, 61
etc.[ see ex.3]). Perhaps the most obvious aspect of the varied time signatures is the frequent shifting from 4/4 to 3/4 (although this does not occur in the first and second development sections), and this simply tends to change the character of the passage (e.g. bars 6-16 etc.).

The incorporation of other meters however (particularly 2/4 + 3/4, or 5/4), affects things more overtly, and of course gives the rhythm an asymmetrical quality (e.g. bars 52, 55 etc.[see ex.4 ). The manipulation of the motifs in general, creates rhythmic interest of course, but also lends a certain sophistication to the proceedings, and it is worth noting how the brief displacement in bars 31 and 32 (see ex.5), and the manipulation. In bars 61-64, are particularly noticeable for the way they make the time sound as though it was turned around.

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The rubato aspect (although strictly to do with tempo) needs to be mentioned, as it features throughout, and generally, it tends to heighten the expressive qualities of the introduction by adding brief ebbs or surges to the overall flow. A good example of the amount of variation here can be found in the first melody section, where, after a number of drawn out phrases, the tempo accelerates in bars 1 0-12, slows again at bar 13, and then returns to the faster speed at bar 24.

The overall effect that Jarrett achieves here is one of rhythmic freedom, flexibility, and a certain elasticity, qualities that have always been evident in his work. Describing Jarrett’s playing when he was with Art Blakey, Jack DeJohnette said, “It was totally free of the time … he would play around, outside the pulse … ” 6 Peter Stanley Elsdon in his analysis of Jarrett’s solo ballad style says “This kind of rhythmic flexibility is found fairly rarely in most jazz contexts”.


The tonal center is that of the song itself, Bb major, but the chord changes from bars 11 and 12 of the tune (which are essentially in D minor) feature often throughout, and this, combined with the fact that the first two chords of the song are also the II V chords in D minor8, means that
there is a recurring D minor flavour throughout. These changes (from bars 11 and 12) are used in the introductory statement, and of course in both melody sections, but are most prominent in the third development section from bars 59-68 where they are repeated (with slight variations) a number of times (see ex.6.) This reiteration of a harmonic fragment of the tune (or a fragment of some related harmonies) is a device that Jarrett has often employed in introductions of this kind (e.g. I Wish I Knew from 1985, or Days of Wine and Roses from 1994), and it creates the impression that the harmony has paused for a moment. There is one brief modulation to the
relative minor (G) in bars 41-45.

keith jarrett sheet music

As stated earlier, the harmony in general is derived from the song, but apart from the aforementioned D minor section, it draws largely upon the cycle of fifths progression that is found in the last eight bars. The first development section in fact is constructed from two of these, and in each case, the first chord is replaced with a substitute tonic, before the cycle
begins on the second bar.

The second development section utilizes the cycle of fifths, but in a slightly different way. The first five bars contain the previously mentioned modulation to G minor, and mainly use a progression of fifths, however, the dominant chord D7 (bar 45) moves down a semitone to a C# minor chord (a tri-tone substitute for G) at bar 46, rather than resolving to a tonic G minor chord. The C# minor then becomes the first chord in a cycle of fifths progression which concludes at bar 56 when it resolves to the Bb major chord.

The third development section begins with a modulation to D minor, and then moves into the aforementioned repetition of the chord changes from bars 11 and 12 of the song, but like the passage at bars 45 and 46, the dominant chord (at bar 69) moves down a semitone rather than resolving to the tonic, D minor. The Ab chord at bar 70 then becomes the first chord in a descending chromatic progression, which lasts until bar 79 where it shifts to another cycle of fifths pattern, and this, like the others, resolves to Bb major (see ex.7).

It should be obvious that the various similarities that are apparent here contribute to overall cohesion. The coda consists of a 4 bar C pedal section (most of which centers around the tonality of the dominant F (see ex.7]), a deceptive cadence which involves another brief move to a D minor chord (begins at bar 100, and utilizes a fragment of the melody on the dominant chord, and a descending chromatic progression to the secondary dominant. The phrase at bars 103 and 104 which leads to the melody, functions as a dominant statement, but of course moves to the first harmony of the song, E minor 7 b 5 (see exs.7) and 8).

There are a few remaining points of interest, and the first of these is the use of a number of fairly dissonant chords which add a contemporary flavour. They can be found at bars 30-32 (note how a D major triad is utilized here (see ex.9]), 49 and 50, 77, and 79. The second is the recurring use of a suspended Bb note above a number of 07 sus. chords (or minor 7 b 5, or minor 9), this creating a certain ambiguity until it resolves either up or down. These chords are found at bars 36, 76, and 101(see ex.S). The last is the very first chord of the introduction which though labeled Ab major, but could easily be interpreted as Bb7sus.or F minor 7.

keith jarrett sheet music
keith jarrett sheet music

Opening melody section

The song is played as a medium swing, with Jarrett establishing this by playing a simple right hand line at the conclusion of the introduction, and once the first two notes of the melody have been stated, the band immediately joins in playing a two feel. The melody at first is played much as written, though of course with the expected syncopations, and there is a
playful quality to the musical dialogue between the instruments. The highly syncopated piano left hand and the bass’ roaming, melodic approach contribute in particular to this, and one is very much reminded of the classic Bill Evans trio with Scott La Faro. (e.g. tracks like Witchcraft 11 or Sweet and Lovely 12 )

At bars 13-15, Jarrett pulls around the rhythm of the melody in what could be called his typical style, 13 and once he reaches bar 19, the original melody is pretty much discarded in favour of an improvised version. Bars 25-28 feature more of the aforementioned pulling around, and this, combined with the syncopations in both the piano left hand and the bass figures, as well as the conversational style of the drums, creates much rhythmic colour, a characteristic trait of this trio. From bar 29 onwards, the rhythmic tension is essentially released as the players come together iQ anticipation of the improvisation section.

The usual harmonic changes tend to be used throughout (see the chord chart which accompanies the transcriptions), except at bars 13 and 14 the progression is changed from F major, E minor 7b 5, A7 to A7, D minor, G minor, C7. The bridge section (bars 17-24), and the last eight bars (25-32) feature a few common variations- a G pedal for bars 17-20, a C
dim.add 9 chord substituting for the first C minor at bar 19, an Eb min.maj. 7, Ab7 sus. progression at bars 21-22 ratherthan just Ab 7#11, and a Gb aug. chord in place of C minor 7 b 5 at bar 29. These changes (from the bridge onwards) tend to create harmonic tension,
particularly the C dim.add 9, Eb min.maj. 7, and Gb aug. chords, all of which have a dark quality.

3.3 Piano solo

General description

It is five choruses in length (160 bars), and runs for approximately four and a half minutes. The overall shape is probably best described this way :-
First chorus- two feel, melody notes occasionally referred to, mainly quaver based; Second chorus- four feel (continues for the rest of the solo), no obvious reference to melody, intensifies and becomes busier (many semi quavers) then becomes less busy near the end; Third chorus – less busy but intensity maintained, then quickly becomes busy again and
builds toward more intensity around the middle which is maintained until the end; Fourth chorus – less busy, but intensity maintained, further intensifies briefly before leveling out in the middle then re-intensifies, becomes busier and builds towards the final chorus; Fifth chorus – starts busily with a climax of intensity and maintains it, then starts to wind down
approaching the last eight bars before winding right down and referring to the melody in the last eight.

It is worth noting the use of many quaver triplets throughout.


Form is achieved mainly by the combination of broad shapes that have been described above. (Note that at the beginning of the climax [bars 128 and 129] the very high register is used.) There is not any sustained use of a particular theme or motif, rather a sense of the solo being through composed. There are, however, many thematic episodes throughout, and in general, they contribute to the development of the solo. The longest of these also tend to assist in the aforementioned changes in intensity. The most substantial of these is probably the one that starts at the end of bar 83, and runs until the end of 90 (see ex.10).

The theme here is obviously the quaver triplets, which for the most part follow a descending pattern that also incorporates ascending figures. There are two other relatively long thematic passages that are worth noting, and the first of these can be seen at bars 104-113. Here, a B flat blues figure is utilized from bars 104-108, and is then followed by a phrase which develops from it. The second is similar, and can be found at the very end of bar 114, and runs until the beginning of This passage uses one theme (bars 115-119) which at bar 120 develops into another (bars 120-125). Another long episode can be found at bars 134-140, and some briefer
examples can be seen at bars 38-40, 43-45, bars 50-54 etc.

keith jarrett sheet music


The overall rhythmic character is a swinging one (the aforementioned quaver triplets contribute to this), but with a certain sense of freeness and (again) flexibility. This flexibility, apart from providing much variety in general, often manifests itself in the utilization of various approaches which create tension by playing around with the beat. Ian Carr whilst describing an early solo of Jarrett’s says this about his rhythmic approach. “His sense of time is so finely poised that he can play within the pulse, enhancing the rhythmic drive, or in some other time he himself chooses… The alternation of these two approaches is one vital way of creating and releasing tension.

Probably the most prevalent of these approaches is Jarrett’s aforementioned playing behind the beat, and it is perhaps most obvious in quaver passages such as the ones found at bars 46-49,65-68, (and particularly) 108-113 etc. (see ex.11). The same approach to semi quaver
passages can be seen in bars 7-8, 71-72, 131-132 etc., and a couple of examples of pushing ahead of the beat can be found in bars 21 and 106 (see ex.12).

keith jarrett sheet music

The other approaches in evidence are the use of :
Displaced figures, the first being in the opening phrase at bars 1-2 (the motif on beat 3 of bar 1 [which happens to be the opening theme of the song) is played on beat 2 of bar 2, [both Jarrett and Peacock also happen to play the Emin.7 b5 chord on beat 2] see ex.13), the other being in the passage at bars 120-125 (here, the motif on beat 2 of 120 is played on beat
1 of 122, and beat 3 of 124); Irregular groupings of notes, as in bars 56, 70, 75, 77 etc.( see ex.14); Crotchet triplets, as in bars 27, 64,114 etc.(see ex.15); A highly syncopated phrase at bar 25 (see ex.16).

keith jarrett

The most important aspects of the general variety mentioned above are:- the number of different rhythms present and the way they are combined; the length of the phrases; where the phrases begin and end in relation to the bar lines; aspects of the phrases’ relationship to the beat which have not already been discussed.

A good example of the variety of rhythms and their combinations can be seen in the first eight bars, these alone containing a minim, dotted crotchets, crotchets, quavers, quaver triplets, and semi quavers (see ex.17). Other examples can be found at bars 21-30, 40-45, 55-57, 62- 68 etc. The phrases vary in length from half a bar (bars 12, 18, 39 etc.) to seven bars (bars 84-90), but in general tend to be one or two bars long. Where they begin and end in relation to the bar lines further demonstrates Jarrett’s flexibility, and his awareness of this is reflected in the following statement – “As a pianist, you really have to phrase impossibly. I think I do that … ” 15 An examination of the first seventeen bars will illustrate this aspect (also see ex.17).

First phrase:- starts on 4+, ends on 2+; Second phrase:- starts on 4, ends on 2; Third phrase:starts on 3, ends on 3; Fourth phrase:- starts on 2, ends on 4; Fifth phrase:- starts on 1, ends on 1; Sixth phrase:- starts on 2, ends on 16., note after 4; Seventh phrase:- starts on 4+, ends on 1; Eighth phrase:- starts on 2, ends on 3+; Ninth phrase:- starts on 1+, ends on 1+.

The above example also shows partially, of course, one of the main aspects of the phrases’ relationship to the beat, and that is their level of syncopation. As can be seen, numerous of them begin and end on the beat, and though there are a number of syncopations within those same phrases (bars 4,9,10 [beat 4],11,12,16 [2+,4+]) there is _still an “on the beat” quality here (see ex.17). This is offset to a degree, by the placement of the left-hand chords (which are almost all off the beat [see ex.18]), but is best seen as an example of Jarrett’s directness, and his comfort with playing simply when he wants to. Talking about the trio, Jarrett once remarked, “All three of us love melody and don’t like playing clever.”

This aspect becomes less noticeable as the solo moves into the second chorus (where the band plays a four feel and Jarrett’s left-hand chords are minimal), and it tends to become more regularly syncopated from the third chorus onwards. However, although the use of the aforementioned approaches which play around with the beat make things less regular, the
accents in the lines often favor the main beats (see ex.19). The resulting approach is therefore one which combines sophistication with directness.

keith jarrett sheet music
keith jarrett jazz improvisation


The chord changes in the piano solo are essentially the same as those used in the melody section, but as you would expect, there are a few variations. The role of the bass, is of course important here, and in general it combines functional root note playing with more melodically based lines.

Often these lines utilize the thirds or fifths of the chords (along with scalar melodies), and as a result, create a certain amount of harmonic tension, but they always resolve to a root note after a bar or two.

Occasionally, Peacock also plays his own brief substitutions (e.g. at bar 44he plays Eb, B, Bb, B, rather than Bb, Eb, (see ex.20) and at bars 119 and 120 he plays a line over a Bb tonality which is F, B, A, G IF, A, Bb, F.

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Jarrett, as is often the case with this song, favors the use of the natural ninth (F#) on the Emin7 b5 chord (the sound of this chord is of course is one of the defining characteristics of the piece), and tends to exploit it’s interchangeability with a tonic Bbmaj. 7 # 5 chord (bars 56 and 65, 89 and 95 etc.[see ex.21]), although he also often uses a flattened third (C#) in Bb
lines (bars 31, 55, 87 etc.[see ex.22]). (Note the substitution of an E min. 11th with a natural fifth for the E min. 7 b 5 in bars 25 and 89. This creates a brighter sound.) The most noteworthy variations are probably those found in the two bar section at bars 13 and 14, 45 and 46, 77 and 78 etc. As can be seen from the earlier reference to \lle chord changes here
(see Opening melody section), this is a Ill, VI, II, V progression in F major, and in general Peacock outlines those changes.

Jarrett, however, treats them more freely and observes them some of the time (bars 13 and 14, 109 and 110 [see ex.23- note how the melody in 110 utilizes an Abdim. chord in place of C 7), replaces them with allusions to D minor at other times (bars 45 and 46 [see ex.24 – note the faint A 7 chord in 46, and bars 77 and 78 [the chords here seem to be F maj./ E 7 b 9, A 7 I D min.) or elaborates on them (bars 141 and 142 [see ex.25 -the pattern here is based on a descending chromatic idea, and is probably
best interpreted as Ab dim., G min., D I F#, F dim., C I E). These variations, and slight discrepancies between the bass and piano, tend to add both harmonic color, and a certain ambiguity.

keith jarrett jazz sheet music
keith jarrett

Other variations worth noting are the use of :

Harmonic suspension (at bar 92 the chords are D 7, D min., G 7, rather than just G 7 (see ex.26]; at bar 103 the Bb 7 alt. chord is held over for two beats.); Harmonic anticipation (on beat 4 of bar 89 the A 7 chord of the next bar is outlined; on beat 4 of bar 143 the D 7 chord of the next bar is outlined [see ex.27].); Changes of chord quality within the bar (at bar 59 the chords are D min., 07 rather than just D min 7 b 5 [see ex.28]; at bar 75 aD 7 b 9 chord is played on beat one rather than D min.);

The superimposition of different chords over one harmony (at bar 144 beat 2 an Eb maj. 7 chord is played over a D 7 harmony [see ex.27]; at bar 131 Eb, Bb, and F triads are played over a C minor hanmony; at bar 134 [beat 2] a D triad is played over a Bb 7 hanmony. ).

These variations obviously contribute to general harmonic variety and tension, and combined with the ones above, create an overall impression of harmonic freedom.

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Jarrett’s lyrical, flowing, melodic style is very much in evidence here, and as you would expect, there is much variety. The lyrical aspect is particularly noticeable in passages like the ones at bars 13-16 (see ex.29), 19 and 20, 65-68, and this is enhanced by his characteristic use of melodic embellishments and grace notes (bars 81 [beat 3], 100, 101 etc. [see ex.30]).

On an organizational level, the overall approach is based on a combination of scalar shapes and arpeggiated figures, with extensive use of chromaticism. As stated earlier, there are occasional references to the original melody notes in the first chorus, and these can be found in bars 1, 2, (see ex.31) and 13. The general diatonic shapes range from scale passages (bars 13,and 14 [see ex.32], and 147), to scalar-type figures (bars 6 [see ex.33], 52, 83, 84), to more purely melodic shapes (20, 27, 33 [see ex.34], 45, 47 etc.), to melodic shapes which feature large intervals (bar 94 [beat 4], bar 95 [beat 1- see ex.35], bar 128 [beat 4] etc.).

There are many kinds of arpeggiated figures, and these range from triadic formations (bars 41 [see ex.36], 46, 57 etc.), to seventh chord outlines (bars 11 [see ex.37], 56, 64 etc.), to superimposed triads or sevenths (bar 19 [see ex.38], bar 80 [beat 4- Bb I D 7 = D 7 alt.], bar 92 [beat 3- F I A 7 = A 7 alt.]), to broken or composite formations (bars 7, 53 and 54 [see
ex.39], 75 [beats 2 and 3] etc.).

The variety found here is a good example of Jarrett’s melodic depth, and this has been described by Laurence Hobgood in the following terms – “Combining an uncanny sense of simplicity and lyricism with a seemingly boundless instinct for connecting, extending and overlapping densely figured phrases, Jarrett embodies the current extent of supreme melodic

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The use of chromaticism falls into a number of categories, and they are probably best described this way:
The use of chromatic notes as,

1) Components of a chromatic scale passage (bar 31[see Ex.40]).
2) Passing tones between scale or chord tones (bars 5 [see
ex.41], 21, 35, 36, 55 [second semi quaver] etc.).
3) “Approach” tones- i.e. tones which lead to a chord tone, and
that do not fall on the main beats of the bar ([in semi quaver
passages of the quaver subdivisions will also be considered the
main beats] bars 14 [see ex.42], 35 [last semi quaver], 109
[2nd, 4th, and 6th quavers] etc.).
4) Dissonant tones which fall on the main beats and then
resolve ([these are similar to an appoggiatura] bars 14 and
15 [see ex.42], 23 [beat 1], 73 [beat 4], 76 [beat 2, 3rd semi
quaver], 138 [beat 3] etc.).
5) Upper and or lower “neighbour” tones – i.e. tones that
embellish a chord tone from above and or below, and maybe
on or off the main beats (bars 18, 48 [beat 3, 2nd quaver], 50
[see ex.43], 55 [beat 4] etc.).
6) Components of what could be called “general” or “universal”
melodic shapes – i.e. melodic shapes which feature some
chromatic movement, and that can be utilized in many
different harmonic situations. (What will hereafter be called
“1” – bars 59 [there are 2 uses here, one on beat 3 and
another on beat 4], 74 [beat1], 130 [beat 3]; “1a”- bar 92;
“2” – bar 60; “3” – bars 77, 145 [beat 3]; “3a” – bar 92; “4”bars 129, 130 [beat 1 – slightly modified]. – For examples of these see ex.44 ).

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Apart from adding interest to the melodic lines, Jarrett’s use of chromaticism here functions in a number of ways. It either serves or embellishes the basic harmony, (as in 2, 3, 5), or briefly obscures it, ( 4) or does both ( 1, 6). (This essentially holds true for the remaining pieces.)
The passage at bar 87, which contains many chromatic notes, is probably best seen as a utilization of the blues scale.

The role of the left hand

In this case, large sections of the solo contain no left hand at all. The only real sustained use is found in the first chorus, an eight bar passage towards the end of the fourth chorus, and the wind down section at the end of the solo which is approximately twelve bars long. This, of course is not unusual, and is a reflection of a common desire amongst jazz pianists to create unencumbered, horn like melodic lines.

The first chorus, in general features short, stabbing chords that are almost all off the beat (this has been touched on in the Rhythm analysis), and which contribute to the playful two feel.

The last chord (bars 30-32) is a long one, and serves to delineate the first chorus from the second (see ex.45) which of course, changes to a four feel. From tben on, it either fills or punctuates (bars 37-40 [see ex.46]), again delineates (bars 64-68,148, 149), or supports changes in intensity (83-90 [see ex.47], 116-118, 150-160).

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Closing melody section

This section emerges from the brief one chorus bass solo which becomes more of an ensemble statement as it progresses, and thus provides a smooth transition between the two.

The fact that (like the opening melody section) it is played with a two feel, much interaction between the instruments, a similar approach to the melody, and essentially the same harmonic changes, means that a certain thematic continuity is present. However, the different rhythmic, harmonic, and melodic colours that the players use, give it a different character, and
make it apparent that a musical journey has occurred. This, of course, contributes to a sense of development. From the beginning of the C section, things become more spacious, and there is a gradual winding down in anticipation of Jarrett’s cadenza, which begins at the resolution point (bar 31 ).

The cadenza

It contains 18 bars, runs for approximately 45 seconds, and is made up of three main sections which are grouped as follows :
1st section: 4 bars;
2nd section: 6 bars;
3rd section: 8 bars;
It’s overall approach is similar to the introduction, as it is played rubato, uses rhythmic motifs, utilizes varied time signatures, and incorporates similar harmonies. The structure will be described as follows:
1st section: (see ex.48)
Bars 1-3 :- Bypasses tonic chord (it would normally occur on bar 31) and begins a cycle of fifths progression that is based on the last eight bars and utilizes motif “A” (see ex.48). After “A” is stated (bar 1 [includes quaver pick up from previous bar]), it is repeated (bar 2), then repeated in slightly altered form (bar 3).
Bar 4 :- Pauses on an Eb chord.
2nd section: (see ex.48)
Bars 5-10 :- Modulates briefly to A minor, becomes faster and changes from 4/4 to 3/4 (bars 5,6), then returns to tonic key area and 4/4 (bar 7) and begins another cycle of fifths progression (uses some of the dissonant chords noted in Harmony in the analysis of the introduction), then moves to a sequence of open fifths and pauses on a Db chord (bar 10).
This all utilizes motif “B” (see ex.49). After it is stated (bars 5,6), it is repeated twice but permutated through the change to 4/4, and slightly lengthened at bar 9.
3rd section: (see ex.48)
Bars 11-15 :- Starts on an Eb/Bb chord and then mainly uses the aforementioned dissonant chords as well as incorporating varied time signatures within 4/4 (bars 13, 15). This all utilizes motif “C” (see ex.49 [note that it is similar to the “B” motif in the introduction]). After it is first
stated (bars 11,12), it is repeated twice but permutated through the changed meters and shortened at bar 15.
Bars 16-18 :- Cadential phrase which uses an ascending chromatic progression. Pauses on an Ab diminished chord, resolves to tonic.

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It is worth noting that even though there are many foreign hanmonies here, the tonal center of Bb major is preserved by the use of the subdominant chord (Eb) at crucial points in the structure. Again, it should be obvious that the similarities between the cadenza and the introduction contribute to thematic unity.

Overview and Summary

The overall shape of this performance is, of course, governed in broad terms by the structure that is particular to this approach, so it is the actual components within each section that contribute to the specific shape which is found here. The introduction functions as a prelude, which apart from presenting the melody has its own definite profile, this being most apparent when it moves from the melody statement into the development sections, and then back again.

The opening melody section not only serves to amplify the melody and develop it (through ensemble interaction and Jarrett’s melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic variations), but also has its own identity and functions as the introductory part of the ensemble section in the musical discourse.

The piano solo functions as a development section, building on what has preceded it, and part of this is a definite change of character between the first chorus (which maintains the playful two feel from the melody section) and the second (which moves into “four”). The second and remaining choruses continue the development, and are responsible for the gradual rise in intensity and eventual climax, which is achieved by building intensity in stages with plateaus in between.

The final part of the solo involves another change in mood when, at the end of the bridge in the last chorus, it begins to wind down. The closing melody section functions as the last part of the development by the ensemble, and (as mentioned earlier) makes it obvious through another
change of character that a musical journey has taken place. The mood then changes once more as the band winds down before the cadenza, which subsequently acts as a final statement that not only has structural connections with the introduction, but of course is once again solo piano.
The general impression that comes across in this performance is one of a very passionate, spontaneous and flowing musical journey. This is made up of many definite musical episodes which are brought together by a strong underlying sense of form and structure. Jarrett’s awareness of this aspect is confirmed in a statement that he made in 2001. “I have instincts about form over long periods of time.”

Jazz Music Keith Jarrett - The Art of Improvisation

Keith Jarrett I Loves You Porgy (with sheet music)

Keith Jarrett I Loves You Porgy (with sheet music)

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LIVE Music Concerts Jazz Music Keith Jarrett - The Art of Improvisation

A great musical experience: Keith Jarrett Trio Jazz in Copenhagen ’99

Keith Jarrett Trio Jazz in Copenhagen ’99 (sheet music)

Keith Jarrett – piano
Gary Peacock – bass
Jack DeJohnette – drum

00:00 Hallucinations

05:57 Doxy

13:51 Only the Lonely

20:02 Between the Devil and Deep Blue Sky

28:48 Sandu

36:42 All My Tomorrows

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Copenhagen Jazz Festival

Copenhagen Jazz Festival is a jazz event every July in Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark. Copenhagen Jazz Festival was established in 1979, but beginning in 1964 Tivoli Gardens presented a series of concerts under the name Copenhagen Jazz Festival with Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis and many others.

According to reports,[1] the total attendance was 240,000 people during Copenhagen Jazz Festival in 2004. In 2006 the number of concerts increased to 850,[2] and today Copenhagen Jazz Festival numbers more than 100 venues, 1100 concerts, and approximately 260,000 guests,[3] making it one of the largest music events in Europe.

Musicians who have performed at the Copenhagen Jazz Festival include Sonny Rollins, Oscar Peterson, Ray Charles, Michel Petrucciani, Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen, Keith Jarrett, Wayne Shorter, Dizzy Gillespie, John Scofield, Herbie Hancock, Pat Metheny, Michel Camilo, Ornette Coleman, Annette Peacock, Svend Asmussen Quartet, Richard Bona, Tony Allen, Chick Corea and Daniel Puente Encina.


The founding of Copenhagen Jazz Festival in 1979 is closely linked to the jazz scene that evolved in Copenhagen in the 1960s, when the city served as a European home for American jazz musicians like Dexter Gordon, Ben Webster and Kenny Drew. An inspired music scene attracted even more American musicians and educated and inspired the whole Danish scene as well.

Through the 70s jazz music expanded in terms of genres and audiences, and reaching 1978 lawyer and project manager Poul Bjørnholt (from Københavns City Center) took the initiative to Copenhagen Jazz Festival, when realizing how local jazz clubs, public spaces, theaters and large venues could contribute to this collaborative event.

From 1979 and until the 90s the festival grew at a steady pace – making room for both international artists and local bands – and today Copenhagen Jazz Festival is its biggest ever with more than 100 venues in Copenhagen and over 1000 concerts. That makes Copenhagen Jazz Festival one of Copenhagen’s most important public festivals, attracting a broad international audience.

1999 Concert

Keith Jarrett, Herbie Hancock, Tony Bennett, Dianne Reeves, Ralph Izizarry & Timbalaye, Gary Peacock, Jack DeJohnette, Thomas Franck Quartet, Chick Corea & Origin feat. Gary Burton, Ed Thigpen Trio, Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen, Svend Asmussen, Palle Mikkelborg, Adam Nussbaum Trio, Ginman/Steen Jørgensen, Tys Tys.

More information on Jazz in Coopenhagen (DK).

Keith Jarrett and Denmark

Keith Jarrett was known, respected and loved by the Danish jazz public – as he also was but lovers of classical music – for with Michala Petri he recorded in 1992 six Bach flute sonatas, and in 1999 flute sonatas by Händel. The year that Michala Petri received the Sonning Music Prize, Jarrett had just been in Copenhagen to give a concert, but he had in fact been here several times since 1966, including a concert in Tivoli Concert Hall and at the Copenhagen Jazz Festival in 1999, when he gave a concert in the Circus Building, Copenhagen with great success.

The daily press

wrote, among other things:

“It was a revitalised Keith Jarrett who first received the Sonning Music Prize with the words: ‘Well, that’s nice’ and then sat down at the black Steinway, where he through his playing demonstrated what he had said in his speech: that he had not been put on this earth to receive prizes but to translate music […] Jarrett was very much alive. Almost danced at his grand piano. Got up, bent at the knees, ducked down, stood on tip-toe, sat down on the stool again. Improvised so the hairs rose on the back of one’s neck. And constantly emitted his characteristic laments during his playing. Was serious, yet went as far as to parody Victor Borge […]”

(Ivan Rod, Jyllands-Posten)

“Jarrett has a fantastic touch, a fluid and light playing style that allows him to be present even in the most diminutive ballad playing – yes, even when he scarcely touched the keys in Peacock’s and DeJohnette’s solo he could be noticed. Always curious to explore just how far the elastic could stretch, how far out he could entice himself and his musical companions. For almost two hours the elastic was stretched to breaking point, but not once did it snap.”

(Anders Jørgensen, Information)

“[…] At times he stands up when he is playing, at other times he is completely hunched over the keys. In that way he is part of his heart-rending phrasings, taking them further than the listener at first imagines, in the same way that a singer can impress one by singing incredibly long phrases at a single breath.”

(Eva Hvidt, Kristeligt Dagblad)

“[…] And yes, the trio comes in and goes out, and goes out and comes in to receive the standing ovation of the audience, and fortunately the three musicians return to their respective instruments. And yes indeed – here comes the loveliest imaginable interpretation of Victor Young’s beautiful ‘When I fall in Love’. The trio takes us on a fairytale excursion that is rounded off by Keith Jarrett – unaccompanied. A quite unique postlude that saves stars – at the finish.”

(Kjeld Frandsen, Berlingske Tidende)

Jazz Music Keith Jarrett - The Art of Improvisation

Keith Jarrett Trio – I Fall In Love Too Easily (composed by Jule Styne & Sammy Cahn)

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Keith Jarrett TrioI Fall In Love Too Easily (composed by Jule Styne & Sammy Cahn)

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LIVE Music Concerts Jazz Music Keith Jarrett - The Art of Improvisation

Keith Jarrett Trio – Standards 2 – LIVE in Tokyo, October 26, 1986, at Hitomi Memorial Hall

Keith Jarrett Trio – Standards 2 – LIVE in Tokyo, October 26, 1986, at Hitomi Memorial Hall


Keith Jarrett Piano Gary Peacock Double Bass Jack DeJohnette Drums

Love Letters

Georgia On My Mind

You And The Night And The Music

When I Fall In Love

On Green Dolphin Street

Woody’n You

Young And Foolish

Recorded live in Tokyo, October 26, 1986 at Hitomi Memorial Hall

This standards extravaganza is the regression to the previous concert’s progression, but loses no sense of integrity for its introversion. “You Don’t Know What Love Is” eases into things with sweeping finesse such as only Jarrett can pull off. It is followed by “With A Song In My Heart,” the meditation of which morphs into some solid invigorations. Peacock and DeJohnette share a flawless rapport, the drummer popping off that snare like a machine gun. So begins an alternating pattern of valleys and peaks, which by the end leave behind an even more cohesive program than the first.

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We next dip down into a tune the trio plays like no one else: “When You Wish Upon A Star.” Jarrett’s rendering makes even the most familiar blossom anew with emotional honesty. The mastery on display in this quintessential example is as pliant as Peacock’s strings, and carries over into the interlocking tempi of “All Of You.” For this, the bassist leaps forward with the first of two solos, moving from robust to filigreed without loss of syncopation. The bassist turns out to be the sun of this solar system, lathering a mysterious yet lucid “Georgia On My Mind” and a duly nostalgic “When I Fall In Love” with enough light to spare in conversation with his bandmates.

DeJohnette, for his part, airbrushes the night sky in “Blame It On My Youth” and lets the groove be known behind “Love Letters.” And in tandem with Jarrett, he feeds magic into the masterstroke of “You And The Night And The Music.” Unforgettable. Each of the encores—“On Green Dolphin Street,” and “Woody ’n You,” —is a virtuosic gem set to twinkling and reminds us that Jarrett and his associates came this far only by selecting their divergences lovingly.

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“Although only music excites me, and awards and ceremonies do not, I feel honored to receive this NEA Jazz Masters Award, due to the many players on the list since 1982 that have been influential in my life. I’m honored to be in their company, and am reminded that the true nature of jazz has always relied on the individual players making their mark on the music of the future. Jazz is not dead as long as someone is playing with true inspiration.

Keith Jarrett - The Art of Improvisation Top 25 icons in Jazz history

Keith Jarrett: The Top 25 pearls in Jazz history

Keith Jarrett: The Top 25 pearls in Jazz history

Born on May 8, 1945, in Allentown, PA; son of Daniel (a real estate salesman) and Irma Jarrett; married Margot while in high school; children: two sons. Education: Attended Berklee School of Music for one year.

In the February 1989 issue of Down Beat, Josef Woodward described the unique artistry and career of Keith Jarrett: “Like an unruly, self-determined river, Keith Jarrett’s pursuit of musical truth has taken him in a multiplicity of directions, either coursing a wide swath or branching off into tiny tangential reivulets. Similarly, his audience has been alternately swept up by the current, carried into the sidestreams, or has been left behind on the riverbanks.” Celebrated for his virtuosity and eclecticism, Jarrett has continued to experiment with the possibilities of the keyboard.

Jarrett was born in Allentown, Pennsylvania, in 1945. When his parents’ marriage dissolved, Jarrett and his four brothers were raised by Irma Jarrett, his mother. A child prodigy who became a professional while still in grade school, he began to play the piano as a child, and started formal composition training at 15.

Keith Jarrett spent a year at the Berklee College of Music in Boston but moved to New York to perform. Participation in Monday jam sessions at the Village Vanguard led to his first engagements. He toured with many of the most important ensembles in 1960s jazz, including Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers and experimental saxophonist Rahsaan Roland Kirk, and became the acoustic pianist for the Charles Lloyd Quartet on its successful tours of Western and Eastern Europe, the centers of popularity for American jazz.

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Played with Jazz Innovators

Jarrett’s compositions “Days and Nights Waiting” and “Sorcery” were given premieres in Europe by Lloyd’s Quartet. His own experimentation in these early years included one album of songs, Restoration Ruin, on which he played and overdubbed parts on the soprano saxophone, recorder, harmonica, guitar, piano, organ, electric bass, drums, bongos, tambourine, and sistra.

When Lloyd’s group disbanded in 1969, Jarrett played with other jazz innovators, most notably Miles Davis, but he also travelled and recorded with his own trio-Ornette Coleman veteran Charlie Haden on bass, and Bill Evans sideman Paul Motian on drums–adding saxophonist Dewey Redman in 1971 for their first album, Birth.

The quartet’s second album, Expectations, was awarded the French Grand Prix du Disque for Jazz in 1971. Jarrett began his recording collaboration with German producer Manfred Eicher and Editions of Contemporary Music (ECM) Records in 1971. As of 2002, Jarrett, Eicher and ECM had produced over 50 records together.

Remaining devoted to the acoustic piano, despite the contemporary fashion for the electronic keyboard, Jarrett continued to write music for his own group. He has also composed for larger numbers and has integrated existing classical music ensembles into his works, as he did with the American Brass Quintet and the string section of the Stuttgart Philharmonic on his double album In the Light. His most popular albums are the solo piano recordings Facing You, Solo Concerts, and The Koln Concert, which was the best-selling piano record in history as of 1995, according to the Keith Jarrett official website.

Jarrett’s reputation grew during the 1970s in Europe and the United States. His honors included a Guggenheim Fellowship for composition and being named Rolling Stone‘s Jazz Artist of 1973 and Down Beat‘s Composer and Pianist of the Year in 1975. Solo Concerts–recorded in 1974–was named record of the year by Down Beat, Stereo Review, Jazz Forum, Time and the New York Times. Jarrett began to split his time between his American quartet and the group of Scandinavian musicians–Jan Gabarek, Jo Christensen, and Palle Danieslsson–with whom he recorded Belonging. He brought them to New York in 1979 and sold out the venerable jazz club, the Village Vanguard, for five nights.

Returned to Classical Piano Performance

A return to classical piano performance began in the early 1980s as he performed the solo parts of concerti with orchestras. His repertory included the classics of twentieth-century composition, such as Concerti by Samuel Barber, Bela Bartok (2nd and 3rd) and Igor Stravinsky (Concerto for Piano and Woodwinds), as well as commissioned works by Lou Harrison and Peggy Glanville-Hicks.

He has also given piano recitals of the classical repertory, favoring Bach, Handel, Scarlatti, and Shostakovich; and has recorded Bach’s Well Tempered Clavier. Crossover critic John Rockwell wrote of Jarrett’s first recital in the New York Times:

“His interpretations had much to recommend them…. He has a venturesome musical mind, eager to embrace new music and new ways of playing familiar music.”

In addition to Barber, Bartok, and Stravinsky, his classical repetoire has also included Hindemith and his billings include performances with the San Francisco Symphony, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the American Composers Orchestra, the Brooklyn Philharmonic and the Beethovenhalle Orchestra Bobb, as well as with well-known classical performers and conductors.

In a 1989 Down Beat article, Jarrett analyzed the differences between playing the fully realized Bach compositions and the jazz standards. “In the case of the Well Tempered Clavier, I can see so clearly the process. The logic and motion of these lines makes beautiful sense…. I’m just more or less following his weave. He’s woven this thing and I’m reproducing it by hand…. In standards, there’s only a sketch, this single line with harmony. So I have to invent the rest of the rug.”

He described “My Song,” which Down Beat called his “most hummable” work, this way: “If somebody can write ‘My Song,’ then either they have [a] brainstorm and wrote this deceptively simple piece that everybody likes when they hear it, or they know what they’re doing.”

In 1983, Jarrett grouped with bassist Gary Peacock and drummer Jack DeJohnette to form the Standards Trio. The group has stuck over the years, playing mostly standards for both large crowds and small houses, and recording in the studio. Their work resulted in two Grammy Award nominations, eleven critically-acclaimed recordings, the Pris du President de la Republique in 1991, and birthed 1996’s critically lauded Keith Jarrett at the Blue Note, a live recording of 37 songs with only three repeats on the whole album.

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Describing the way in which the group successfully plays together, Jarrett told John Ephland of Down Beat, “We need pro, con and mediator; otherwise, everything falls apart.” When asked by Ephland if they communicated through their instruments–and not through vocal commands or hand signals–Jarrett replied, “That’s right.”

While their communication onstage and in the recording studio makes them technically superior as a group, there’s more to it. “Every time we play, we might be playing the same material, but it’s a new planet.” Jarrett told Ephland. said, “[the] acoustic trio … remains one of the most durable and dynamic in jazz today.”

Struggled with Illness

In 1996, Jarrett was struck with a severe case of chronic fatigue syndrome, a debilitating bacterial disease. He caught the airborn parasite while on a tour of Europe. He said that “Playing the piano has been my entire life,” according to Down Beat‘s Dan Ouellette, but Jarrett was forced to cancel all his engagements and even seriously consider whether or not he would ever play again.

And for over two years, he didn’t. He was, in fact, confined to his house during those two years, unable to play the piano even inside. Still unable to give the type of “athletic” performance he was known for when he returned to a trimmed-down touring scene, Jarrett learned to exist under a “roof” of physical ability, forever knowing he could hit that roof and relapse back into chronic fatigue. In 1999, Jarrett recorded The Melody at Night with You, an album for his wife as a Christmas gift, and his return to the music world.

Jarrett is best known for his improvisational performances; a musical genre that owes much to Baroque keyboard composers such as Bach and Scarlatti and to the traditions of jazz. In an article by James Lincoln Collier in the New York Times Magazine, Jarrett described the depth of his “Tabula-rasa approach to jazz improvising” as “I like to turn off the thought process. I’d like to forget that I even have hands. I’d like to sit down as if I’d never played the piano before.”

He got this idea when he was in his teens, and he heard his brother play the piano in a way that inspired him to play freely. He told Ted Panken of Down Beat, “Practicing usually gets in the way of my performing. It’s like it sets up patterns or makes my ears less open. I’ve often said the art of the improviser is the art of forgetting.”

And he claims to have had to work long and hard to put imperfections–“soul”–in his music. He told Ephland, “If I’m filled up, then all I can do when I play is throw up. But if I can get to some place and be real empty, then I can be available.” It’s a philosophy that has taken him far. He told Ephland, “If you own anything, you’re not free.”

Jarrett’s jazz–of a style and a level of talent all his own–has made him what the Keith Jarrett official website called “an improviser of unsurpassed genius and a master of jazz piano.” He performs and records music solo, with other musicians, and with his Standards Trio, improvising at the top of his game and growing even more influential. He has had more than 30 years of important accomplishments, working with the “imperfect instrument” to create the stuff that improvisation is made of.

by Barbara Stratyner

Keith Jarrett plays a solo improvisation at “Molde Jazz Festival” in Norway, August 2, 1972.

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