Since the early 1970s, Jarrett's success as a jazz musician has enabled him to maintain a parallel career as a classical composer and pianist, recording almost exclusively for ECM Records.
In The Light, an album made in 1973, consists of short pieces for solo piano, strings, and various chamber ensembles, including a string quartet and a brass quintet, and a piece for cellos and trombones. This collection demonstrates a young composer's affinity for a variety of classical styles.
Luminessence (1974) and Arbour Zena (1975) both combine composed pieces for strings with improvising jazz musicians, including Jan Garbarek and Charlie Haden. The strings here have a moody, contemplative feel that is characteristic of the "ECM sound" of the 1970s, and is also particularly well-suited to Garbarek's keening saxophone improvisations. From an academic standpoint, these compositions are dismissed by many classical music aficionados as lightweight, but Jarrett appeared to be working more towards a synthesis between composed and improvised music at this time, rather than the production of formal classical works. From this point on, however, his classical work would adhere to more conventional disciplines.
Ritual (1977) is a composed solo piano piece recorded by Dennis Russell Davies that is somewhat reminiscent of Jarrett's own solo piano recordings.
The Celestial Hawk (1980) is a piece for orchestra, percussion, and piano that Jarrett performed and recorded with the Syracuse Symphony under Christopher Keene. This piece is the largest and longest of Jarrett's efforts as a classical composer.
Born on May 8, 1945, in Allentown, PA; son of Daniel (a real estate salesman) and Irma Jarrett; married Margot while in high school; children: two sons. Education: Attended Berklee School of Music for one year.
Left musical studies to perform with numerous jazz performers, including Art Blakeley, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Miles Davis, and Charles Lloyd, early 1960s; formed his own trio with Charlie Haden (bass) and Paul Motian (drums), 1969-71; became quartet with addition of Dewey Redman (saxophone), 1971; formed additional quartet with Jan Gabarek, Jo Christensen, and Palle Danielsson, 1974; formed Standards Trio with Gary Peacock and Jack DeJohnette, 1983; diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, forced to take a two-year hiatus, 1996; returned to music scene with The Melody at Night With You, 1999; has performed with numerous orchestras and as a solo artist.
Awards: French Grand Prix du Disque for Jazz, 1971; Guggenheim Award, 1972; named Rolling Stone’s Jazz Artist of 1973; named Down Beat’s Composer and Pianist or Artist of the Year, 1974, 75, 94, 96, 97, 98; Prix du President de la Republique from the Charles Cros Academy for Recording of the Year, 1991; has also won major European and Japanese recording awards.
Keith Jarrett playing a full piano solo concert following the celebrate Koln concert (1975) and the Japan Sun Bear concerts recorded in 1976.