Thanks to all of you who shared your perceptions of Friday’s concert/bronchial symposium by jazz piano legend Keith Jarrett. I’ve spent a bit of time ruminating, too, and have a few more cents to chip in:
- I’ve seen a number of brilliant pianists in my time — McCoy Tyner, Brad Mehldau, John Lewis — and with every one sans Jarrett I had the impression they we’re so deeply involved with what they were playing that someone could have set off a pipe bomb without interrupting their playing. It’s a curious muse that gives a genius a train of thought as easily derailed as Jarrett’s.
- Upon consideration, I’m quite sure I resent being referred to as an “impurity,” which would seem to the logical extension of Jarrett’s remarks. (Imagine if he had said it with a German accent — would have sounded positively sinister.) But more than that I feel sorry for someone who has become so estranged with the world outside his head.
- I’ve been to Davies dozens of times, and by those standards, Friday’s audience was about as reverent as one can expect. (I was more annoyed by the visual distraction of glowing phone screens from those who can’t bear to message-less for more than two minutes.) If you want to see a fidgety, restless crowd, try one of the Wednesday symphony rehearsals, when it’s all senior citizens jacked up on coffee and free donuts.
- Yes, we do put up with a fair bit of grief by accepting Jarrett’s right to vandalize his own art with persistent vocalisms that sound like nothing so much as a gang of agitated rodents. Mutual goodwill suggests the audience deserves of consideration, too.
- I don’t buy the complaint/theory about the audience perversely making more noise during the quiet passages. Just because you’re not hearing certain sounds doesn’t mean they’re not there. In fact, not hearing would be a very useful skill to develop.
- One of the key concepts in psychology is “maladaptive behavior,” actions taken through habit or perversity that actual put you further away from a desired outcome. I’d argue that Jarrett’s interruptions fall in that category, The audience is a little restive, you rip ’em for that, and now they’re so tense and hyper-aware that all kinds of stuff is going to slip out. A polite request at the beginning of the show noting some ground rules (the “how to know when a piece is actually finished” policy, for example, would be helpful) and a bit of flexibility are far more likely to keep the audience working with you.
- Whatever happened to the tradition of symphony ushers handing out free cough drops to those who need them?
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