Jarrett, Keith , 1945- , American jazz pianist and composer, b. Allentown, Pa. A child prodigy on the piano, Jarrett was exposed to contemporary jazz during high school. After graduation, he attended the Berklee College of Music in Boston in 1963, and then moved to New York a year later. He was hired by bandleader/drummer Art Blakey to play with his Jazz Messengers, but he soon clashed with the elder leader, and left to play with saxophonist Charles Lloyd, appearing on his album, Forest Flower (1966), a highly influential recording among jazz and rock audiences; he remained with Lloyd until 1968. During this period, Jarrett made his first recordings under his own name, leading a trio including bassist Charlie Haden and drummer Paul Motian. In 1969-71, he played with Miles Davis’s jazz-rock group, playing both electric piano and organ with them. After leaving Davis, Jarrett reunited with Haden and Motian, adding saxophone player Dewey Redman, forming his so-called “American quartet”; they recorded and toured through the mid-‘70s. He formed a complementary “European quartet” during this period.
Jarrett is best-known for his improvised solo piano recordings, often recorded in live concert settings. The most successful were released as Solo Concerts: Bremen/Lausanne (1973; Time’s “Jazz Album of the Year”), The Koln Concert (1975; a staple in college dorm rooms for the rest of the decade and the bestselling piano recording in history), and the 10-record set, Sun Bear Concerts (1976). He continued to make solo recordings over the following decades, with his improvisations increasingly showing the influence of classical music i. In 1983, Jarrett formed The Standards Trio along with bassist Gary Peacock and drummer Jack DeJohnette to record his favorites among the jazz repertory, and they recorded and toured together for over 25 years. Diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome in 1999, Jarrett’s performances became less frequent and his solo performances shorter than in the past in the 2000s. In 2018, he suffered two major strokes, and is not expected to be able to perform again.
See biographies by I. Carr (1992) and W. Sandner and C. Jarrett (2020); studies P. Elsdon, Keith Jarrett: The Koln Concert (2012)