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Keith Jarrett Biography


Home > Music > J > Jarrett, Keith > Biography


Born: 1945/05/08
Birth Place: Allentown, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Years Active: 1966–present
Genres: Free Jazz, Mainstream Jazz, Avant-garde Jazz, Jazz Fusion, Post Bop, Western Classical Music, Free Improvisation, Contemporary Jazz


Keith Jarrett was born on May 8, 1945 in Allentown, Pennsylvania and is a classical and jazz pianist and composer. Jarrett's style draws from traditional jazz, gospel, the blues, and folk music. Jarrett was exposed to music at an early age in the gospel churches of his hometown, by the age of 3 he embarked upon piano lessons, and by the time he was 5 years old he was appearing in talent shows. His television debut was the talent show hosted by the swing bandleader Paul Whiteman. At the age of 7, Jarrett gave his first piano recital, playing the work of Mozart, Bach, and Beethoven. As his teen years unfolded, Jarrett became heavily influenced by jazz music, and moved to Boston, Massachusetts to attend Berklee College of Music.

Upon graduation, Jarrett relocated to New York City, where he landed a gig playing piano at Village Vanguard. Art Blakey saw Jarrett perform and offered him a spot in his band, the Jazz Messengers. From there, Jarrett played with The Charles Lloyd Quartet Jarrett, in addition to recording his own music as part of a trio with Charlie Haden and Paul Motian.

Jarrett's debut album as a band leader, “Life Between the Exit Signs” arrived in 1967 on the Vortex label, followed by “Restoration Ruin” in 1968. “Somewhere Before” appeared that same year on Atlantic Records, in addition to The Charles Lloyd Quartet disbanding.

Jarrett began to play with the Miles Davis group shortly after. Davis and Jarrett parted ways after Davis retired in late 1970. At this juncture in his career, Jarrett began to focus on and expand his trio with Haden and Motian, adding saxophonist Dewey Redman. The quartet produced, “The Mourning of A Star,” in 1971 via Atlantic Records. As the 1970's came to an end, Jarrett assembled and led another quartet, which consisted of saxophonist Jan Garbarek, bassist Palle Danielsson, and drummer Jon Christensen.

Jarrett's solo career began with ECM Records in 1971 and the release of his debut album, “Facing You.” He continued to produce solo albums while working in both of his quartets. The albums included, 1976's “Staircase,” 1981's “The Moth and the Flame,” 1986's “Book of Ways” and 1999's “The Melody at Night, With You.”

In 2003 Jarrett received the Polar Music Prize, followed by the Léonie Sonning Music Prize a year later in 2004. In 2008, Jarrett was inducted into the Down Beat Hall of Fame.