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When You Wish Upon A Star: Keith Jarrett

Let’s have a look at a truly inimitable pianist this week, the incredible Keith Jarrett.  A very controversial figure in the “jazz press”, which often focusses on his lecturing the audience about making noise, or the temperature in the hall, and so forth.  As a musician, I focus on the crazy lyricism of his playing, the instantly identifiable touch no matter the piano, the stunning depth of his left hand and the harmonic approach that nobody else has even really attempted to bring to this level.  More than any other jazz pianist, Keith doesn’t just “voice-lead”, try to get the voices to make sense as polyphony, he actually has gotten to the point where he can improvise a 6-part chorale;  all 6 voices being perfect melodies unto themselves, and his harmonic thing really stands alone in that way.  He often appends a gorgeous improvised coda onto the standards he plays that takes them to an entirely new level, just jaw-droopingly beautiful.  But in today’s piece, have a listen to his great off-the-cuff improvised intro to “When You Wish Upon A Star”, and check out the incredible elasticity of his TIME as he plays the tune.  As I’ve said in our lessons, the time in jazz isn’t really a grid to conform to, but rather something to play off of, or to play against, one pole to stretch your own groove over.  And Keith is a master!

 

 

 

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