Jazz Birthday: Keith Jarrett

Jazz88 celebrates the birthday of pianist and composer Keith Jarrett, born on May 8, 1945, in Allentown, PA. Jarrett is in a class with Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea as one of the most influential keyboard artists of his generation. The scope of his work includes jazz, fusion, and classical music. He is also influential for his solo performances, which include entirely improvised concerts.
Jarrett’s early career included work with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers (he can be heard on Blakey’s Buttercorn Lady), the Charles Lloyd Quartet (Jarrett was in Lloyd’s band when it also included Cecil McBee and Jack Dejohnette. Watch a video of the group here), and as a sideman with Miles Davis, including Miles at FillmoreLive-Evil, and Get Up with It.
Jarrett released  Life Between the Exit Signs, his first recording as a leader, in 1967 on Atlantic Records. He recorded several albums for Impulse! records as well that featured saxophonist Dewey Redman, a musician famed for his association with Ornette Coleman. On these recordings, Jarrett played soprano saxophone in addition to the piano.
Beginning in the early 70’s, Jarrett recorded in various configurations for ECM Records, including solo concerts that were completely improvised. It was on this label that Jarrett recorded his famous Koln Concert, one of the best-selling recordings in the history of jazz.
ECM was the home for Jarrett’s Standards Trio, a group that included drummer Jack DeJohnette and bassist Gary Peacock. They worked together for more than thirty years and released more than twenty  albums of material.
Jarrett’s classical music output is also on ECM, including original orchestral music and recordings of works by J.S. BachDmitri ShostakovichG.F. HandelMozartArvo Part, and others.
In the late 90’s, Jarrett was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome and was unable to leave his home for long periods of time. After suffering major strokes in 2018, Jarrett was left partially paralyzed. Although he regained some ability to walk and he can play with his right hand, he is not expected to perform again.

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