chapter  11
16 Pages

Listening in the Gaze: The Body in Keith Jarrett’s Solo Piano Improvisations

WithElsdon Peter

The solo improvisations have often been described in critical writing as surveying a wide musical territory, or sometimes in quite literal terms as a journey through a series of different musical styles. Keith Jarrett began playing improvised solo concerts in 1972 and developed a format that consisted of two halves of music, each usually around forty minutes in duration. The chapter suggests that an important aesthetic ideal in jazz has always been to understand the body as the site of the music. Lawrence Kramer describes the listening gaze as something capable of producing ‘new modes of musical response, new forms of musical meaning’. Compared with music that is “stored” in a score, jazz is stored in the performer’. The development of the solo piano concerts was documented by a series of recordings, most notably the 1973 album Solo Concerts and the subsequent 1975 Koln Concert, one of Jarrett’s best known recordings.