Keith Jarrett is disgraced in Paris

Keith Jarrett is disgraced in Paris


norman lebrecht

July 11, 2014

The jazz pianist is averse to coughing.

He has taken to walking out when anyone in the audience expectorates.

Last weekend, he walked out at the Salle Pleyel.

The German cabaret artist and children’s author Felix Janosa was so dismayed he voiced his disgust on his Facebook page:





Gestern Abend war was los, nämlich Keith Jarrett im Salle de Pleyel zu Paris, auch ich samt lieber Frau unter den Zuschauern im ausverkauften Haus. Nach den üblichen Ermahnungen, die man wegen kleinerer Huster von Jarrett erwartet hatte und insgesamt sechs vollständigen und zwei abgebrochenen Improvisationen in der ersten Hälfte, fing die zweite Hälfte in deutlich gesteigerter Form an: Auf eine Schostakowitsch-hafte Toccata folgte ein überzeugender Jarrett-Gospel und als drittes eine sehr schöne Ballade. Als jedoch Jarrett sich beim vierten Stück (Jarrett-Standard-Ostinato) durch einen SEHR kleinen Huster wieder aus dem Konzept gebracht fühlte, verließ er nach einigem Hin und Her mit Fans und “Störern” beleidigt den Saal. Selbst über 10 Minuten anhaltendes Klatschen konnten die Mimose nicht davon überzeugen, das Konzert in Würde zu Ende zu bringen. Der Meister erschien dann doch noch mal, aber nur um den enttäuschten Fans zu sagen: “I have no more music in me!” Abgang Jarrett, Pfiffe, Buhrufe und echte Enttäuschung bei vielen Hardcore-Jarrett-Fans, meine Wenigkeit eingeschlossen.


Yesterday evening something was out of whack.  Namely, Keith Jarrett at the Salle Pleyel in Paris, where my dear wife and I were in the audience of a sold-out house.  After the customary admonitions about coughing that we’ve come to expect from Jarrett, and a total of six complete improvisations as well as two interrupted ones in the first half, the second half began in  markedly elevated fashion:  a Shostakovich-ian toccata, followed by a convincing Jarrett gospel number, and then a very beautiful ballade.  But during the fourth piece (a standard Jarrett-ostinato), when Jarrett again felt he had been distracted by a VERY small cough, he left the hall in a snit after some back and forth with fans and “disruptors.”  Even ten minutes of sustained clapping could not convince the shrinking violet to bring the concert to a fitting conclusion.  The master then came out again, but only to say to the disappointed fans, “I have no more music in me.”  Jarrett departed to the accompaniment of catcalls and real disappointment from many hardcore Jarrett-fans, my humble self included.


UPATE: Some readers have asked why we thought Jarrett was disgraced. What else do you call an artist who walks out on people who paid to hear him play? If Myra Hess could play through the London Blitz, Mr Spoiled Jarrett can override a little cough.


  • Dominy Clements says:

    I take your point and am indeed much against people who are just plain inconsiderate at concerts, but if someone is that sensitive perhaps the Glenn Gould solution might be considered. When it comes to coughs there is of course the question of timing – as every professional golfer can attest. I wasn’t there, so can’t tell how ruinous this example might have been.

    Audiences create their own atmosphere and are ‘participants’ in any performance with all of the risks this brings. I believe there is always a balance to be struck between discomforting preciousness, healthy give-and-take, and closing down the joint as the result of deliberate abuse or sabotage.

    • Bob M says:

      “Audiences create their own atmosphere and are ‘participants’ in any performance…”

      A statement like this is exactly the problem. Somewhere along the way audiences have felt this terrible sense of entitlement when it comes to performances. A quick peek at the word’s history might clear things up:

      Audience: from Latin audīre – to hear.

      It is most certainly not an audience but the production that creates the atmosphere, and the audience merely pays to be in it. They are not ‘participants,’ they are spectators.

    • Henrik says:

      I find it peculiar no one has made the following comparisons. He makes way more noise from his mouth when playing than anyone in the audience combined. What if everyone in the audience would be just so into it, just like him, and start to grunt, whine, weep, and whatever noises that comes out from his mouth when playing?

      On top of that, he knows this beforehand. He has known this “coughing” thing from the start on. And chose to make that as his main nuisance, because he damm well knows it will turn up at every concert. Just like it was invented or present only at his concerts directed at him personally. People coughed way before he even was thought of. Everybody else knows that. If that bothers him, DON’T DO THESE CONCERTS. Simple as that. DON’T DO TOURS. It’s simple as that. If I was an artist, and that bothered me that much, I would refrain from tour at all, and do that Glenn Gould thing. We’ve seen enough drama queens.

      I know one concert, that one of the audience members felt asleep (by the music) and snored loudly. Keith, he snapped, went up and left the stage. What comes around goes around. He had it coming.

      • Ann Dane says:

        I like Keith Jarret but his own noises so compete and at times overshadow his playing I no longer listen to him

      • Christopher Mark Mark Jarrett says:

        Absolutely your opinion – and I’m his brother…;)

        • George Hanson says:

          Is Keith doing ok, Christopher? I understand he had medical issues, does that mean a stroke or some kind of brain damage? Best wishes for him.

    • William N Grant MD says:

      I’ve been listening to Keith Jarrett since the 60’s. He has always delivered spontaneous new and refreshing solos. His technique is unbelievable. He is able to play a different melody with multiple fingers. For this reason, he is probably one of the best classical and jazz pianist of all time. Critics complain because he demands absolute silence and no flash photos. These break his concentration. Part of his concentration are his own grunts and hums. Remember Art Tatum and Oscar Peterson. Any other sounds or lights breaks his concentration! If you go to any of the great orchestra halls for a concert the rules for being quiet and flash photography are the same. Keith absolutely plays for himself and always delivers his best! After all, Miles was one of his teachers. At the Plugged Nickel in Chicago, I listened to 1 hour of Miles while watching his back. Miles was another musician who did not sell out and played for himself. Personally I go to a concern to hear originality and quality of the performer. I believe that except for Keith Jarrett’s own humming and grunting that we should all be respectful and honor his wishes.After all when we go to see him, we are going to his “house”.

      Bill Grant, MD

      • Jon Korofsky says:

        I am a concert pianist who plays jazz. Despite the fact that I’ve known and studied Keith for many years, I can not abide his childish, selfish and petty pretense.

        Keith is a Prima Donna spoiled brat who has been getting his way for years. I can assure you there is no other musician in Classical music or in Jazz who walks out on audiences because someone coughs.

        Keith is the only musician who feels he is so much better than his audiences… much more evolved as a genius, so much more deserving of indulging his slightest irritations, that he truly believes he is entitled to walk out on people who have paid their hard-earned money to hear him.

        I’ve heard him admonish audiences where he tells them that they are undeserving of hearing him, and if they don’t behave themselves, and do as they are told, he will not play a note.

        Keith was punished by God a number of years ago, when he had his long bout with chronic fatigue syndrome, at least that is what we other mortal pianists believe. He could barely move, let alone play, but apparently the punishment didn’t last long enough for the lesson to sink in, and when he regained his health,he returned to being childish, petty and mean to the audiences who put food on his table.

        His wife couldn’t stand him after years of putting up with him, and after three attempts, Roseann finally had enough and left. Keith is a very unhappy person. He is the envy of every jazz pianist in the world, both in terms of his ability, his fame, the concert opportunities which are richly given to him, the world’s finest pianos in fresh tune, with audiences who worship him….and he is making truckloads of money….still he is a miserable S.O.B. I envy him, but I also feel very sorry for him. I don’t think he can truly appreciate what he has, and he certainly does not appreciate the love his audiences shower him with. He is a classic example of a man who has everything, but can’t enjoy it, appreciate it, or even recognize it. What a shame to have so much yet be so unhappy.

        • John D says:

          Well put, Jon K.

        • Anthony Mastrandrea says:

          Thank you for bringing up Jarrett’s chronic fatigue syndrome. I think that the next time a audience member coughs, Keith should keep in mind that his audience has accepted his shorter solo work because how can you blame him for it when he has no control over his fatigue. Keith must accept also audience members who like him have no control on many aspects on how their body acts, or he must do a GleenGould. Anthony in LA.

        • so Jon K, you know everything about Keith Jarrett’s life, uh?

          – the way he feels about himself;
          – the way he feels about the audience;
          – the way Rose Ann feels about him;
          – the way God feels about him;
          – the way he must feel miserable, yada yada yada…

          as for me, I only know one thing for sure:
          Keith Jarrett is simply wonderful. his brilliant musical intelligence puts him way above a multitude of talented artists. Keith Jarrett creates so much beauty it hurts, so enchanting beauty it brings tears to my eyes, makes me believe life is not totally stupid and not all human beings are plain and boring.

          but you’re right in one thing: envying him his success. you should do it even more intensely for I am sure if you were in his shoes for one single moment, you’d be so proud of yourself it would blow your mind and make you absolutely insupportable. that I can see when you bring up the matter of his illness as a punishment of God. like he had done some terrible thing to deserve such a punishment. like you’re entitled to speak in God’s name.
          you are a bad person, Jon K. a tiny little obscure person. a nobody. I pity you Jon K.
          funny, he is KJ and you are JK… and that makes all the difference.

          • jbinsb says:

            Yes, but refusing to allow a single cough…or even seven…is like insisting that overpopulation is the problem we must solve to save the world. Not going to happen. So get on with it. He’s a tremendous player, but have a bit of grace. A cough is just a cough. Meaningless. Here and then gone. Keith seems to get only the “here” part, and then clings to it. First two of Buddha’s Four Noble Truths. 1. There is suffering. 2. It is caused by attachment. Aversion — to coughs or anything else — is an attachment.

    • Christian Dadagian says:

      You all are blowing this out of proportion. Who cares about him or his prima donna rules.
      I attend his concerts to hear his music. Analyzing his personality and going into depth describing his artistic intentions and musical genius is missing the point.
      His music is why we go and why we will continue to go. Holding in a cough and shutting of your toy phone is worth it.

    • William Dennis-Leigh says:

      Has it occurred to anyone KJ may be on the Autistic Spectrum?

  • Anne says:

    Wasn’t there so can’t judge. However, there is a fine line between perfectionism and petulance.

  • Chris Walsh says:

    This is why I’ve stopped going to see Jarrett live. I’m prepared to be held responsible for my own conduct as an audience member, but not for everyone else’s.

    • Kalle says:

      Of course this coughing could be from someone having a cold, but more likely is a reaction of some people feeling the intense of the surrounding atmosphear and need to “give it away”. Some people can hold it, others can’t.

  • SVM says:

    Irritating as it is for non-coughing audience members, I cannot help feeling that Jarrett’s solution is probably the only one that is likely to elicit any change in audience behaviour. In fact, as a very distinguished performer, it is his duty to stand up for us all, since, unlike most of us, he probably does not have to worry too much about whether he will be invited back.

    No matter what concert halls have done to stop people coughing/making illicit recordings/extinguish mobile telephones (this is not to say that there is not more that could be done), the fact remains that it is almost impossible to actually physically enforce, unless the performer has the option to walk off stage. If people such as Jarrett and Zimerman did not force these issues into the public consciousness, they will simply not be discussed, out of concern that it might “put off potential audiences” — well, what about respecting the music, performers, and indeed existing audiences, for all of whom the lack of disturbance *is* a vital and integral part of the concert experience (I would go so far as to say that, in one respect, music disrupted by inconsiderate audience members is comparable to spoiled food), and for which considerable money is expended.

    If you know that you are about to have a fit of coughing, leave the auditorium as quietly and discreetly as possible; if, having done your utmost to prevent a cough, you fail, cover your mouth with your hands (this will also inhibit germs from spreading, so you should be doing this in any case).

    • deVere says:

      Absolutely correct. Absurd to suggest that Jarrett was “disgraced” : the moronism of today’s “audiences” with their iPhones and obsessive selfie/photo clicking; holding of phones in any person’s face is offensive to all TRUE artists and intellectuals.

      I have been present in museums/galleries when groups of US “tourists” have walked through rooms full of art – looking at nothing but holding their bloody technology to say “look where I’ve been!”. I’m sick to death of ignorant people, their aggressive attitude, pushing their technology in everyone’s face.

      Jarrett is right to enforce his demands – the idiots here writing hogwash suggesting that *he* is creating noise whilst performing know not the first thing about what it means to perform.

      Our world is full of loud-mouthed buffoons.

  • Jesse says:

    We don’t notice people coughing at most concerts because most concerts don’t have the dynamic range of Keith Jarrett. In Toronto a few weeks ago, I was surprised Keith didn’t make more of a big deal out of the fact that people could be heard coughing literally about every 15 seconds, and maybe 1 in 5 made any attempt to muffle the sound. Then there were a few people who took pictures including one asshole in the front row who made no attempt to hide it. This was after being told explicitly that it disrupts Keith’s concentration. Call him a diva, the man is a very special and unique musician, capable of bringing people into the heavens. Give the man what he wants, for crying out loud.

  • David Kowalski says:

    I’d like to find a substance (non-harmful, of course) that I could spray near Keith’s piano so he’d go into a coughing fit…..

    • John Harmer says:

      What a horrible thing to say

    • roy gumpel says:

      finally someone in this crowd said something funny! Sounds like most of you uptight pseudo intellectuals wouldn’t know funny if it bit you in the ass.
      And to the chick here who has jarretts photos plastered all over her page and states that she’s always been in love with him “yadayadayada” and also happens to be in an OPen relationship….. you’re just an idiot I think. What the fuck wrold do you even live in I wonder. Oh right…. Keith Jarrettland. enjoy the whine!

  • Elijah says:

    Bessie Smith sang as the KKK waited outside, and this guy can’t stand a cough ?

  • Greg Hlatky says:

    I hope every member of the audience demanded – and got – refunds.

  • Chris Smart says:

    Perhaps if Keith stopped sounding like he was having a seizure while improvising, I’d be more inclined to listen to his recordings and attend his concerts. I understand completely the necessity to hear clearly, to sing mentally and play it on your instrument, but can’t he stop the mental singing from leaking out of his mouth? “EEEEEEEEEEEEE” …

    • Johno says:

      Spoiled,conceded,brat, too full of himself. As simple as that. You can’t force audience to be quiet. And he’s one of my favorite pianists. More to life than music & art. Much more!

  • Jerome Sabbagh says:

    I wasn’t at the Keith Jarrett concert where he walked out in Paris, but, for the record, I’ve been at many Jarrett concerts over the years, trio and solo. They have always been between really good and just unbelievably amazing. I’ve never seen him walk out yet. And, even if he did walk out at a concert I attended, I would still buy a ticket for the next one, just to give myself a chance to hear some of the best improvising coming from anyone alive.
    Jarrett is NOT playing in clubs. This is Carnegie Hall and Salle Pleyel. The comparison to what can happen in clubs is not valid, in my opinion.

    In general, in those rooms, particularly in Paris, where I grew up and attended concerts many times, particularly for solo piano concerts, and in classical music as well, the coughing has gotten out of hand. I feel Jarrett is being honest about where his improvising is coming from. A improvised performance also has to do with the alchemy with the audience, the way the room sounds, feels etc, particularly for a Keith Jarrett solo concert. The audience is part of it. It’s not entertainment, and it shouldn’t be, if you want it to be real, and not about spitting out something preconceived. If you want to cough, text, tweet, take pictures, go to the bathroom, and discuss with your friends, buy the DVD! But don’t spoil the moment, for the performer, and for everyone else who cares.

    Jarrett is trying to get to a pure improvising experience, he is trying to channel something through his playing. Whether he succeeds all the time or not is besides the point. At the very least, shouldn’t we want him to try? As an audience, shouldn’t we try to help him do what he does best (and better than pretty much anyone else)?

    Just paying a fee, even $100 a ticket, doesn’t give anyone the right to feel entitled to take a picture, record, make noise etc. And I would argue that the taking pictures etc is a real distraction that shows a lack of focus from the audience. It is silly – and disrespectful – to spend an evening taking pictures watching Jarrett, or any other jazz great, while you could actually be listening. I am sure Jarrett can feel the level of focus of an audience from the stage. That feeds his playing, good or bad. We are part of the performance.

    As far everyone criticizing Jarrett, everyone is entitled to their opinion, but it’s just that, an opinion. And personally I’ll take Jarrett’s music over most of his critics’, any day.

  • Buzz Kemper says:

    I am a professional recording engineer, so yes I too am sensitive to noise, but people cannot be silent at all times, despite their best efforts. Stuff happens. People sometimes have to cough. A child speaks or cries. Someone drops a program on the floor or shuffles their feet. It happens. Jarrett is not paying these people; they are paying HIM. If he is too big a baby to play in less than perfect conditions then he should not attempt to concertize. This is his problem, not the audience’s.

  • Lars says:

    Sorry, but i am not willing to cut people who cough in auditoriums, who disturb the musicians and spread their germs, any slack whatsoever. It is the coughers who terminated this concert and not Mr. Jarrett. He asked serveral times for some respect. If they can’t control their coughing at all then they should be at home nursing their illness. Give us all a break already.

  • Dave T says:

    Phoning, filming, texting are one thing– one utterly inconsiderate, inappropriate, and rude thing. Coughing is another. It is mostly involuntary. Who WANTS to cough, be sick, etc?

    Mr. Jarrett is utterly unprofessional. His audiences, in Paris and going forward, should be furious.

  • Mcwhansman says:

    My, that comment betrays a profound ignorance of the history of music performance, both jazz AND classical, and of the nature of a great concert, which is a transcendent sharing of the experience between artist and audience. As a performing musician and frequenter of all manner of musical events, I can certainly attest to the distracting nature of the coughing auditor. But I think much worse than this is the concert halls’ oppressive atmosphere wherein every other person is a scold waiting to pounce with an angry glare and smug condescension. Good music is a joy, a marvelous opening up of our selves to ourselves and, at it’s very best, to each other. Yet the whimsy cannot be met with a chuckle, the driving rhythm must not take us up in its sway. Jarrett’s folly is to treat his artistry as non-interactive, and his audience a necessary but regrettable patron to his extravagantly fertile muse. But his painful caterwauling aside-how does he even hear himself with all the racket he is making? trying to take the humans and their mecurial pulmonary responses out of his concerts borders on onanistic narcissism. He’s lucky they didn’t pelt him with tomatoes.

  • Neal says:

    I cannot believe someone said that this is the only way things will change. He has been doing this for over 30 years and what has it changed? He has been playing with the same trio for how many years? And he still get’s too bothered by a cough? I’m sure it doesn’t help but you cannot tell me that if his next meal depended upon it that he could not play with someone coughing. He just does not want to find it within himself, after over 30 years to accept that there is going to be coughing. What would he have done if he had to sing to slave masters? Walk out? His arrogance prevents him from allowing himself to find a way to play through the distractions. He just refuses to bend or compromise. Yes, he can choose to make that choice but there are many in the world that have it a lot more difficult than Jarrett that don’t have a choice. He has a choice but will just not allow himself to lower himself in his eyes of what he thinks he deserves. I would have liked to see him try that when he worked for Miles. Why didn’t he do it then? And in Umbria, he knew damn well there was going to be photographers ahead of time. He could have put it in his contract that he would not perform unless they secured the stage area of photographers. But no, he had to make a huge scene for everyone to see. I have seen him a few times but will never go see him again. When he was younger, he took risks and challenged himself by playing with others but today, he plays it as safe as possible. The greats like Miles, Coltrane and Parker always tried to challenge themselves and collaborated with musicians that had different approaches to music but Jarrett has been playing it safe for decades now. And he let’s a cough bother him? I don’t buy it. It’s either an act or he is full of himself and either way, it completely lacks humility. Just my opinion.

  • Neal says:

    Just out of curiosity, I wondered what he would have done playing at a jazz club where people are setting their beer and wine glasses down on the table, or are eating their dinner because that is partly how the club stays in existence. Shuffling their chairs around to get comfortable. I don’t like it as a listener but if jazz clubs were the only places where Jarrett could get a gig, what would he do? I’m not saying all the noise is right but I don’t think his answer is either.

  • The solution is to hand out little “cough” pillows at his concerts.

  • l barbieri says:

    Baryshnikov did not fancy coughing of the Parisians either. BUT he never left the audience hanging without finishing his pieces. True professional.

  • alexander johnson says:

    not being a jarrett fan: his best piano playing is when he’s with REAL leaders (jack de johnette and dymitri shostakovitch) and when he has to follow “orders” – otherwise you only need to hear 10 min. —— whereafter you heard all! sandy j

  • Lizzie Ball says:

    For goodness sake artists need to come into the 21st century, stop being so damn precious, appreciate the privilege of their careers despite the work that went in to achieving it, and stay humble, otherwise frankly, get off the stage and just record instead!! Viva the future of better people skills, less ridiculous diva antics, more social awareness, and more FUN, and perhaps then the audience would be so stunned they would actually forget to cough!

  • Rohan Moore says:

    Jarrett’s obsessed with the prospect of attracting a large live audience of exclusively esoteric Jarrett-philes, who will transcend the concert hall to a near-religious experience at his hands. First, that’s odd, and second, he never succeeds.

    His first colourful admonishment for the coughing at Salle Pleyel was to shake his head and play a high-volume stride piano piece to drown-out the audience – during which the audience was completely silent and responded with their most rapturous applause of the concert. He explained that he hadn’t come to Paris to turn out that kind of formula, and followed it with a demonstration of where he really wants to take a solo concert, proceeding with a gentle and expressive tremolo piece, through which the GAD-sufferers turned loose the throat-clearing cluster bombs. Hilarious!

    Jarrett’s policy of collective punishment—in response to finding that his audience has been infiltrated by infidels not partaking in the spiritual ritual—is sinister, creepy and entirely unacceptable. His caprices are utterly incompatible with a commercial public performance contract.

    However… If there’s ever a chance to attend a concert when all the infidels stay at home, there’s no limit to what I’d pay for the ticket.

    • Tom says:

      So he played 6 pieces in the first half and 4 in the second. That’s only slightly shorter than a typical Jarrett solo convert (he throws in 3-4 encores) barely disgracing himself like the headline suggests.

  • Tom says:

    So he played 6 pieces in the first half and 4 in the second. That’s only slightly shorter than a typical Jarrett solo concert (he usually throws in 3-4 encores) barely disgracing himself like the headline suggests.

  • […] (b) not act anti-social, and (c) not behave like a freak. To be sure, I can think of at least one noted musician who is notorious for going off during performances when someone sneezes (or coughs) […]

  • John Dworkin says:

    My tribute to Keith Jarrett:


  • David Wright says:

    Thank god it’s not just me that finds Jarrett’s falsetto beeping along to his improvisations weird and a tad annoying. He seems to have cut back on it a bit now but the early albums, esp. the live ones such as Nude Ants are a bit the worse for it. The quartet studio albums have him further back in the mix so less of the beeping I guess, but it still occurs from time to time. As for his prima donna behaviour and hypersensitivity to coughing, I have never seen him live so I can’t really comment.

  • H Munster says:

    Keith Jarrett is footnote in the history of jazz. A talented improvisationalist, not much more. Certainly, not a writer of memorable standards or a visionary innovator. He is truly more of a self important snob, who regards himself above most others. He is a prima donna, who has leached at the teet of jazz, but not sown its garden.

  • Tiberiu says:

    Why not to build a huge glass cube or something similar to cover the band so he can’t here anyone around , something like a recording studio. They all have microphones , so this should be no problem for the sound quality for his audience. I understand all points of view, but my suggestion for Jarrett would be at least to mention on the ticket that perfect silence is required or else the performance could be stopped, so people should know from the beginning the risks, not after they already payed for the ticket. What I mean is that somebody like myself who likes this artist could pay the ticket price which means a fortune for me, or worst scenario: I could spend money to fly in another country just to hear him because I like so much his music, not knowing the risks and left disappointed.

  • bob meier says:

    Every one knows Jarrett can be tempermental in live performance. When you go see him perform live, you’re gambling that he may be in an accepting mood, or in a hissyfit mood. I think coughing is not avoidable-it’s an involuntary thing. But I’ve been at concerts where someone coughs persistently and loudly. THAT person should have stayed home-he is ruining the experience for a lot of people including the performer. The same with photos and cellphones-unacceptable. There are plenty of photos of Keith Jarrett. Why would you pay top dollar to see a concert and interrupt it with a cellphone? On the other hand, everyone loves Sunday at the Village Vanguard, Billl Evans great live recording from 1961. The audience could not be less attentive-you can actually hear people’s conversations at some points. But the ambience of this non-stop talking, bottles being opened, etc actually becomes a part of people’s remembrance of this recording. If people acted like this at a Jarrett show, he would have been justified in walking out. If Bill Evans can put up with it, so can Jarrett. It’s possible for us to listen to Bill Evans on this record and tune the audience out. But not totally-and I think that’s one reason why it’s such a great recording. I prefer Jarrett’s live recordings to the studio recordings (except Facing You.) There’s something about Talent Studios that’s just a little TOO quiet.Just saying.

  • Pob says:

    What about sneezing, belching and chronic flatulence? Is that ok, with Keith?

  • Frank says:

    I’m somewhat irritated by all the “drama queen” comments and the “just deal with it” type of response.
    This is an artist delivering an unearthly performance every time. His dedication to music is second to none.
    If things like these break his concentration too much to be able to perform, it is respect to his audience and a further token of his absolute loyalty to give nothing but the best, that he stops his perfornance. Because it is this quality that has made him famous and that sells out every performance.
    So I think it is a matter of respect to his audience instead of discgrace.

    And to add to this: I don’t think it is a deliberate choice of his (as some suggest).
    Allthough no official statement to my knowledge has ever verified this, I think a lot of things in his life, in his attention to detail, in his way of interaction (for example in interviews) and in his performance point to Keith having an autistic disorder (ASS).
    One feature of such a disorder, is being exceptionally sensitive to any external stimulus, whether that be a noise or light or whatever.
    That’s because an autistic brain functions differently than a non-autistic brain on a neurological level: it lacks the filter for sensory input that a normal brain has.
    So I think from this theory, it is very understandable that something “normal” people don’t even notice can be massively disruptive for him.
    That’s not being arrogant or obnoxious, that’s just physics.
    And it is this very thing that also creates the wonderfull music, it just has it’s downside of coming from an instable balance that sometimes dissappoints an expecting crowd.

    • Anthony Mastrandrea says:

      Jarrett’s concert goers have decided to accept Keith playing shorter solos due to his chronic fatigue syndrome. Then I ask why doesn’t Keith accept audience members when they cough? They have no control over their coughing just like Keith has no control over his lack of stamina. Anthony in LA.

    • Jerome Peterson says:

      Thank you Frank: I’ve been a fan since mid 70’s and always wondered what might be wrong with the wunderkind, especially after ’81. I thought it maybe was a overly tight relationship with his mother, and/or a touch of inferiority complex (as contradictory as that sounds), but finding himself somewhere on the autistic spectrum would explain some things: why he dropped out of Berklee, why he never really found an interior discipline (his whole career is lurching from one improvised performance project to another); though I’ve found hyper-sensibility and knee-jerk defensiveness is a characteristic of most musicians of any stripe, successful or not. The fact he carved out a unique niche for himself is imho worth mentioning in the history of 20th century, in a footnote certainly.

  • Jerome Peterson says:

    I appreciate that KJ expects a lot of himself and needs a quiet space and excellent piano and no hassling from anyone at the hall, management or audience. Probably it’s being recorded and that’s an extra level of stress.

    But is it worth it? In the period around the Bregenz/Munchen concerts of 1981 (a notable but brief victory) he went back to school with standards, Bach, Bartok, Stravinsky etc. but imho failed to find a new way, at least as the solo idiom goes (I haven’t heard any of the trio recordings). I still say Koln was a lucky break for him and ECM financially but artistically it was a cul de sac that he never found a way out of, fatigue syndrome or not.

  • Dan Dobek says:

    Just leave the guy alone . To do what he does requires intense concentration and his ability to connect to the audience . Audience goers should respect Keith standard of no photos which is totally understood as a performing artist of his quality and worldwide fame. It is just a general respect for the artist and if you’re sick with chronic coughing you should just stay home so you don’t spread the germs !!!

  • wim de haan says:

    He is one of the greatest musicians, true, he speaks the language of music, true, I adore him, true, but in 1992 (I believe) he played solo in the Concertgebouw Amsterdam, before start playing he stared to the sealing (to heaven, to god I guess) for ‘receiving inspiration’, but the next gesture was odd and a thing I never to forget: he did not say so, but his message was clear: “you know, no coughing, or I will go home”. He made such arrogant unpleasant impression …… he started to play …. wonderfull …. 15 minutes of choose-pumps …. interrupted by some idiot who started to cough, really to cough, like on purpose, Jarrett did not stop, he continued, after the intermission the ‘coughing’ guy disappeared, I am sure for this reason it was never released on CD, the recording machine was on stage, underneath the piano, and was switched on manually by Jarrett himslef.

  • Peter Vogel says:

    It depends on whose important here/Whose needs must be served: The audience or the artist?

    Some people feel that the artist exists only to serve the audience and any demand made by the artist on the audience is a personal affront and not to be tolerated (think of the outrage from some when Miles Davis turning his back on the audience to play). Others feel that the artist is sufficiently worthy that the audience does whatever is necessary to allow the artist to create art that they can hear and be present at the creation.

    Your choice on where this complaint lies on that spectrum. But if you go to see Jarrett without having done the research to find out what your role is (i.e. if you think that the artist can’t make any demand on the audience so you only have to show up) then you may well be disappointed.

  • Andrea Quirine says:

    Apparently, a prominent senior pianist or composer is very sensitive towards what happens in the audience stage. Including the smallest thing such as the coughing sound of the audience (Jarrett calls them ‘distuptors’). Anyhow, having a chance to watch Jarret’s intense solo performance is a very special thing for me and all his fans. All I can say is listen to it and be ready to be blown away. How can we define music and why does it connect to us powerfully? Check this out

  • The Silent Listener says:

    We should be grateful for every note …

  • BG says:

    I was at this particular concert in Paris. Jerome Sabbagh said it all. Why do you think he is always touring Japan? People rather die on the spot than cough there. It’s a matter of respect. He took his chances, scheduling a show in France. I can’t say I was surprised by how things played out. I smirked and moved on – partly because I already had a ticket for the concert in Rome the week after, which was wonderful.

  • Kyle says:

    Where does one start in talking about Keith Jarrett? The man is complex. I return constantly to his work as a source of inspiration, and his mastery of all forms of western music is unique in jazz (except perhaps for Wynton Marsalis) His ballads ache with longing, and his bop tunes are exhilarating displays of virtuouso technique. That being said, I can also tire of Keith Jarrett. His improvisations can be unfocussed and rambling. Some pieces go nowhere. He doesn’t compose, except when improvising. He has collaborated with very few people since the 60’s. He’s introduced few if any stylistic innovations to the piano. And his ego is certainly annoying (albeit perhaps justified). Just read an interview and you’ll see. He once said that years for now, people will be writing doctoral theses on his music, etc. Maybe. His sense of entitlement to a worshipful audience borders on delusion.
    And he’s a jerk at concerts.
    Keith Jarrett is a fascinating person, but perhaps not a nice guy. He’s had to pay dearly for his gift. But we can thank him for sharing it with us, even if he walks of the stage for a measly cough.

  • Tom says:

    It’s Keith Jarrett and the truth to his success is his uncompromising approach to himself and his audience. It’s brutal sometimes. So what, we expect that from him and it’s a lazy comparison to compare him Myra Hess, who is a completely different pianist from another world and era. Is it worth 100 dollars seeing a Jarrett concert that could end early and in tears, well that’s the risk you need to calculate when there are many records in their abundance. The artist is not a commodity, but reviews good or bad, are.

  • Michael Huff says:

    I can only imagine right now Jerry Seinfeld and Elaine Bennis attending one of the almighty Keith Jarrett’s concerts and Jerry placing that Tweetie Bird PEZ dispenser on her leg. Then the inevitable Keith Jarrett reaction. That would be worth the price of admission alone.