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Keith Jarrett - Improvisation on Rhodes (1971)

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Keith Jarrett Jarrett was asked to join the Miles Davis group after the trumpeter heard him in a New York City club (according to another version Jarrett tells, Davis had brought his entire band to see a tour date of Jarrett's own trio in Paris; the Davis band being practically the only audience, the attention made Jarrett feel embarrassed). During his tenure with Davis, Jarrett played both Fender Contempo electronic organ and Fender Rhodes electric piano, alternating with Chick Corea; they can be heard side by side on some 1970 recordings, for instance the August 1970 Isle of Wight Festival performance preserved in the film Miles Electric: A Different Kind of Blue and now on Bitches Brew Live. After Corea left in 1970, Jarrett often played electric piano and organ simultaneously. Despite his growing dislike of amplified music and electric instruments within jazz, Jarrett continued with the group out of respect for Davis and because of his desire to work with DeJohnette. Jarrett has often cited Davis as a vital influence, both musical and personal, on his own thinking about music and improvisation.

Jarrett is heard on several Davis albums: Miles Davis at Fillmore: Live at the Fillmore East, The Cellar Door Sessions (recorded December 16–19, 1970, at the Cellar Door club in Washington, DC), and Live-Evil, which is largely composed of heavily edited Cellar Door recordings. The extended sessions from these recordings can be heard on The Complete Cellar Door Sessions. Jarrett also plays electric organ on Get Up With It; the song he is featured on, "Honky Tonk", is an abridged version of a track available in its entirety on The Complete Jack Johnson Sessions. In addition, part of a track called "Konda" (recorded May 21, 1970) was released during Davis's late-1970s retirement on a compilation album called Directions (1980). The track, which features an extended Fender Rhodes piano introduction by Jarrett, was released in full on 2003's The Complete Jack Johnson Sessions.

In 1996, Jarrett was struck with a severe case of chronic fatigue syndrome, a debilitating bacterial disease. He caught the airborn parasite while on a tour of Europe. He said that "Playing the piano has been my entire life," according to Down Beat’s Dan Ouellette, but Jarrett was forced to cancel all his engagements and even seriously consider whether or not he would ever play again. And for over two years, he didn’t. He was, in fact, confined to his house during those two years, unable to play the piano even inside. Still unable to give the type of "athletic" performance he was known for when he returned to a trimmed-down touring scene, Jarrett learned to exist under a "roof" of physical ability, forever knowing he could hit that roof and relapse back into chronic fatigue. In 1999, Jarrett recorded The Melody at Night with You, an album for his wife as a Christmas gift, and his return to the music world.

Mad freak out rhodes improvisation from 1971 as part of the Miles Davis Group. The late Don Alias on percussion.

Tags: free jazz

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