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mjzee

Keith Jarrett: A One-of-a-Kind Artist Prepares for His Solo

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Hey, if it bothered you and you didn't get it, that would be something to be worried about! :g

Funny thing about Jarrett though, for all his railings against electricity in music, I think that his least "self-conscious" playing was his electric work with Miles. That stuff just...came out in a way that appears to be uninterrupted and unfiltered. "Unworried about" might be the best way to put it. And not just for that work, but for all of his best work. Unworried about.

The time to worry is when you practice. When you play, it's time to play, not worry. If you're constantly worrying about your playing while you're doing it, something ain't right yet.

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I don't hear that at all. Jarrett is a highly melodic improviser.

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I don't hear that at all. Jarrett is a highly melodic improviser.

Who writes/improvises memorable, singable melody lines.

Which is why he is popular.

Edited by Bev Stapleton

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On the other hand, "Mary Had A Little Lamb" is at once highly memorable, highly melodic, and highly singable. And, not coincidentally, highly popular. still, after all these years.

"Melodies" are like the assholes of music, some are dirty, some are clean, some stink in a good way, some make you want to puke from several miles away, but in the end (HAHA) everybody has 'em in some form, so it's not anything to be particularly...proud about, not in and of itself.

But more to the point, it's not Keith's "melodicism" that's in question, it's more the quality of that melodicism. I've heard him be absolutely sublime, and I've heard him be absolutely trifling. Now, if anybody hears it all as one or the other, cool, different strokes and all that, but I ain't drinkin' that much of the pro or con Kool-Aid!

Edited by JSngry

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On the other hand, "Mary Had A Little Lamb" is at once highly memorable, highly melodic, and highly singable. And, not coincidentally, highly popular. still, after all these years.

"Melodies" are like the assholes of music, some are dirty, some are clean, some stink in a good way, some make you want to puke from several miles away, but in the end (HAHA) everybody has 'em in some form, so it's not anything to be particularly...proud about, not in and of itself.

But more to the point, it's not Keith's "melodicism" that's in question, it's more the quality of that melodicism. I've heard him be absolutely sublime, and I've heard him be absolutely trifling. Now, if anybody hears it all as one or the other, cool, different strokes and all that, but I ain't drinkin' that much of the pro or con Kool-Aid!

That's an intellectual view of things (and let me make clear I'm not trying to dismiss you as an intellectual...I'm well aware your response to music happens on many levels).

What most people want out of music is something melodically memorable and/or danceable.

Jarrett achieves that (and much else beside) and so makes music that has a wider reach than most jazz.

Whether it is 'worthy' or not is something that is of concern to a narrow body of listeners.

I have no problem with listeners rejecting Jarrett for whatever reason as a matter of personal preference (despite attempting to overcome a prejudice against Dave Brubeck, probably born of early jazz-fan snobbery, I still can't relate to him). What I find tiresome...and it was there in some of the initial comments in this thread and in just about every Jarrett thread I've read...is the 'I'm irritated by him and you should be too' implication.

I know you are not saying that, Jim.

Edited by Bev Stapleton

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No. I'm not, (I mean, again, there's a lot of Jarrett's work taht I am quite fond of) and thanks for realizing that.

Also, my response to Jarrett's various levels of melodicism (sublime vd. trifling, etc.) is first and foremost a visceral one, I assure you. The "intellectual" part comes when trying to describe why I either love it or hate it.

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I guess I disagree with Jim re: Jarrett. I hear a lot of Jarrett's expressiveness as rhapsody, and I enjoy the shifting planes of composed and invented I hear in the solo material.

That trio. . .it can swing, it can roll in rubato, it can careen along almost chaotically, and it can produce a triumvirate version of that rhapsody. These are masters at working together, working together.

well said Lon. I think the trio has really worked on an approach to free playing that is very accessible, especially in the area of vamps. One of the things I like about "Straight No Chaser" on "My Foolish Heart" is that rather than play it typically as a straight blues it turns into a collective improv, and all three of those guys have played in that vein so it works. Even the more out things like on "Always Let Me Go" are unique for their accessibility

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Hey, if it bothered you and you didn't get it, that would be something to be worried about! :g

Funny thing about Jarrett though, for all his railings against electricity in music, I think that his least "self-conscious" playing was his electric work with Miles. That stuff just...came out in a way that appears to be uninterrupted and unfiltered. "Unworried about" might be the best way to put it. And not just for that work, but for all of his best work. Unworried about.

The time to worry is when you practice. When you play, it's time to play, not worry. If you're constantly worrying about your playing while you're doing it, something ain't right yet.

While I don't think this applies to most of the Trio recordings with Jarrett I can feel where your coming from and every artist should live by those words. However I don't I think Jarrett is always coming from this angle but that a lot of his fan base tends to over intellectualize his work, for years I associated him with the bierkenstock smoking jacket types, don't get me started on what I thought of deadheads (funny that I become one). I think you pointed it out perfectly with this in regards to Chris Potter and how until his Underground band came out why his records disappointed when it was obvious that he had tons of talent. Good post and points as always.

Edited by WorldB3

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I gotta admit, though I would like to give Jarrett a daily swirly, one night, driving home somewhere in Connecticut, maybe 15 years ago, I heard on the radio the most beautiful version I have ever heard of Stella by Starlight - and it turned out to be by Jarrett with the trio.

which shows that even buttheads can be great artists - of course we already knew this, but Jarrett is a special kind of butthead.

I always wonder what guys like him would do if they didn't get special treatment, were not treated like artistes, had to function in the real world - he'd probably end up the jazz equivalent of Miss Havisham -

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sure, he may be a douche (who cares?), but I find myself listening to Always Let Me Go and Personal Mountains a lot, at least monthly over the past year or so. I'm unable to analyze the music like Jim and others here, but, I like it.

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I never thought of this before, but maybe special treatment for the precociously talented extends beyond the realm of athletics. Those of us who are into sports get righteously indignant when a jock walks and a "normal" person pays the price. The prevailing logic is that because of their extraordinary skills, athletes are allowed from a very young age to live by one set of rules while everyone else must live by another. I suppose there's no reason to think that someone like Jarrett, who had to have demonstrated his extraordinary talent early on, would not have benefitted by the artistic equivalent. Maybe that would partially explain his behavior.

Also, Bev, if my comments about Jarrett came across in a manner that made you think "if I'm irritated, you should be too" then I must tell you, that was in no way my intent. I don't operate like that. I've never asked that anyone accept my opinions about anything. They are just my opinions and mine alone. I don't think anyone should have to attach a "don't try this at home" warning to their musings. If a post influences someone else's thinking, that's fine. If it doesn't, that's fine too.

Up over and out.

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From waht I understand, Jarrett's "special treatment" began as a child, with his mom, who was very protective & fought all his fights for him and stuff like that.

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I like most Jarrett, and Solo Concerts Bremen Lausanne and Oregon - Winter Light were important bridges in getting me from rock fan only to fan of all music with a concentration in jazz. Melodrama is a good thing to me - Lee Morgan's version of In What Direction are You Headed, Derek and the Dominos' Layla and their version of Little Wing, Woody Shaw's Obsequious. I paid less attention during the Standards Trio period, but like much of what I have heard, I just didn't hear it as many times. I'm looking forward to hearing new solo music and can't say I have disliked any solo Jarrett. I actually do feel some distraction from the vocalizing, as I do with Walt Dickerson, but I find both artists so sublimely lyrical that it's a small price to pay. In rare circumstances a grunt at a climactic moment works musically better than its absence would have. Jarrett's treatment of audiences is a minus, but he's well behind Getz and Miles in the extramusical baggage department and probably behind Art Pepper too. I'm glad he played for us, and continues to.

Dedicated persistent and one sided attacks start to communicate more about the attacker than the target.

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From waht I understand, Jarrett's "special treatment" began as a child, with his mom, who was very protective & fought all his fights for him and stuff like that.

I'm not surprised. :lol:

dB

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I like most Jarrett, and Solo Concerts Bremen Lausanne and Oregon - Winter Light were important bridges in getting me from rock fan only to fan of all music with a concentration in jazz. Melodrama is a good thing to me - Lee Morgan's version of In What Direction are You Headed, Derek and the Dominos' Layla and their version of Little Wing, Woody Shaw's Obsequious. I paid less attention during the Standards Trio period, but like much of what I have heard, I just didn't hear it as many times. I'm looking forward to hearing new solo music and can't say I have disliked any solo Jarrett. I actually do feel some distraction from the vocalizing, as I do with Walt Dickerson, but I find both artists so sublimely lyrical that it's a small price to pay. In rare circumstances a grunt at a climactic moment works musically better than its absence would have. Jarrett's treatment of audiences is a minus, but he's well behind Getz and Miles in the extramusical baggage department and probably behind Art Pepper too. I'm glad he played for us, and continues to.

A wonderfully balanced post, Randy.

I think your first point has a lot in it. Jarrett may have been fortunate just when he emerged as a solo performer. I too was a rock listener, enjoying the extended songs and jamming side of the music. But by 1975 I was finding it less satisfying - partly because the 'major' bands seemed to be running out of ideas, partly because of a weariness with the volume and the rock beat.

Along comes this chap playing extended, melodic improvisations, seemingly out of mid-air and without any electricity or a thumped out 4/4 beat. *

Right sound, right place, right time.

The interesting think with Jarrett was that following him into the Impulse Quartet I met both highly melodic and exotic music (which I expected) and on his more Ornettian tunes an approach to melody that I was quite unfamiliar with.

Regardless of all the spiritual/great artist baggage that surrounded him, he helped me hear in a different light.

[This may be a reaction peculiar to a UK rock fan - I was not aware of the Charles Lloyd band; I think I first read about Jarrett on a CBS 'Inner Sleeve' advertising Miles' 'Live Evil'. Maybe Lloyd, and thus Jarrett, was already a known quantity to UK jazz listeners. But it's as a solo performer that I first became aware of him through write ups in the 'Melody Maker'/'NME' c. '75.]

Edited by Bev Stapleton

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Both Randy and Bev make some good points about Jarrett above. An interesting parallel that springs to mind for me, and probably one that will generate a fair amount of controversy here, is how both Jarrett and Cecil Taylor have "pared down" their approach to solo piano over the past couple of years. No more unbroken, stream-of-consciousness marathon forays... Almost a return to "song form" in a way.

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No controversy from me, Bill. It seems a natural progression to distill as one ages and matures, to cut closer to the essence the closer you find yourself getting to it.

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Dedicated persistent and one sided attacks start to communicate more about the attacker than the target.

I've been going back and forth on responding to this - ultimately I find this just as annoying as the claim that beneath every negative reaction to Jarrett is the belief that "I find him irritating, so you should find him irritating, too." Its as if Jarrett's fans have some lingering fear that the persistence of negative comments will ultimately convince them that indeed they should find him "irritating".

I am quite certain that for folks like Dave James, his persistent attacks on Jarrett only communicate his response to his music. It says nothing about Dave except that he doesn't hear Jarrett as others do. Jarrett's defenders ought to be able to live with that instead of attacking his detractors.

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No controversy from me, Bill. It seems a natural progression to distill as one ages and matures, to cut closer to the essence the closer you find yourself getting to it.

Maybe if Keith lives into triple digits, he'll sit in front of the piano an play nothing at all. :)

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No controversy from me, Bill. It seems a natural progression to distill as one ages and matures, to cut closer to the essence the closer you find yourself getting to it.

Maybe if Keith lives into triple digits, he'll sit in front of the piano an play nothing at all. :)

That will be recorded for one of his classical discs - Jarrett plays John Cage (the extended remix).

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No controversy from me, Bill. It seems a natural progression to distill as one ages and matures, to cut closer to the essence the closer you find yourself getting to it.

Maybe if Keith lives into triple digits, he'll sit in front of the piano an play nothing at all. :)

That will be recorded for one of his classical discs - Jarrett plays John Cage (the extended remix).

:rofl:

Along those lines, here's an actual quote from Jarrett:

"If sound is music and came from silence, then silence is potentially greater than sound. If the sound is effective, it should actually have a chemical - some sort of physiological - effect on the listener, so he doesn't have to hear that sound again." - Keith Jarrett

-_-

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Along those lines, here's an actual quote from Jarrett:

"If sound is music and came from silence, then silence is potentially greater than sound. If the sound is effective, it should actually have a chemical - some sort of physiological - effect on the listener, so he doesn't have to hear that sound again." - Keith Jarrett

-_-

Well nobody, not even me, ever said that Keith wasn't occassionally full of shit. :lol:

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I don't know, sounds to me a little like Sun Ra. Here's a quote from the Ra-staman: "People have two harps in their head, their ears, just like a harp. They hear by the strings in their ears. If I play something very strange, then some strings that never vibrated before will vibrate. The whole nervous system will become alive."

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Keith to me is like Woody Allen. An American icon.

If anyone here was at last week's Carnegie concert....not since I heard Horowitz did I witness such an outpouring of affection for an artist.

Whether right or wrong, it doesn't matter. (Or is that from a Billie Holiday song?)

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I don't know, sounds to me a little like Sun Ra. Here's a quote from the Ra-staman: "People have two harps in their head, their ears, just like a harp. They hear by the strings in their ears. If I play something very strange, then some strings that never vibrated before will vibrate. The whole nervous system will become alive."

Yes, Keith and Ra were hardly unique in the 60s/70s in that sort of talk (I blame cheap paperbacks of Sanskrit texts and the like). They clearly believed that they were part of whatever master plan the creator had. Now where are those Alice Coltrane records....

Any rock fan who enjoyed Yes albums in the early 70s and, more to the point, was convinced that Jon Anderson's lyrics held a key to the universe was a natural for Jarrett's philosophising. Would certainly have been far more appealling to the spirtual seeker in '76 than Johnny Rotten's!

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