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The Keith Jarrett story / RollingStone India

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Keith Jarrett announced in October 2020 that his piano playing career might well be over. This has come as a painful shock to his legion of followers and admirers everywhere. Jarrett had suffered a stroke which incapacitated his left hand which is so vital for a pianist. He has kept a low profile since 2018, when first, his concert at New York's Carnegie Hall was abruptly canceled, followed by a cancellation of all his subsequent concert commitments. He has not played a show since that time. It must be very painful and frustrating for a musician to be laid low in this fashion.

Jarrett, along with Herbie Hancock, Joe Zawinul and Chick Corea have been the leading, most significant and influential jazz pianists in recent times. (Interestingly, each of these pianists with the exception of Jarrett has played in India). There is something of a similarity in the careers of these four jazz piano masters. Each one of them has transited from being a mainstream jazz pianist in the early 1960s to discovering the synthesizer/electric piano, experimenting with jazz fusion and then returning largely to playing acoustic jazz piano again. Jarrett had only a short experiment with the synthesizer before returning to the acoustic piano.

After his experiment with the electronic piano was over, came perhaps, some of his best jazz playing output; he formed a superlative acoustic trio with Gary Peacock on upright bass and Jack DeJohnette on drums. They have recorded albums of jazz standards, records of incredibly beautiful jazz. As this is being written, we are listening to this trio playing the ballad "If I Should Lose You," a piece in which the three musicians seem to be in conversation with each other. This has been the consistent feature of all of this trio's several recordings; they have elevated the acoustic piano trio sound to a high level.
PHOTO: Wikimedia Commons

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