Keith Jarrett – The Art of Improvisation

I saw this documentary recently and loved it.  There are so many nuggets of musical wisdom throughout that I just can’t resist sharing a few thoughts, albeit in no particular order.

Music is a process that musicians go through – or rather, depending on your perspective, music is a result of that process.

And speaking of processes, it was reassuring to hear that even musicians as great as Keith Jarrett don’t seem to fully understand the process of improvisation.  It just happens.  As he put it, “You have to be crazy . . . you have to allow yourself to be crazy.”  To hear him speak, you start to think talent resides in the subconscious: “My left hand had knowledge that I wasn’t letting it tell me for years and years.”

Likewise, Gary Peacock, a longtime trio partner of Jarrett, said it this way: “The music is telling you what to play . . . you just ride along.”  Check out the Standards trio’s work here.

In these concerts, everything is improvised, even the set list and order.

Like Herbie Hancock, Jarrett would never have tried electronic instruments until Miles Davis insisted.  He “gave in” to Miles and started experimenting with non-traditional pianos. “We were just looking for the groove,” and found it . . . with incomparable style.  But lest we forget: “That’s about all you can do with electronic instruments: you can play with them.  Because they’re toys.”  This statement makes me happier than I can say.  I think I agree.

One last thought:

“The more experience a person has, the more his simplicity is profound.”


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