Keith Jarrett is an American pianist and composer, specialising in jazz and classical music styles. He grew up in Pennsylvania and started composing and performing from an early age. In 1963, Jarrett moved to Boston to attend the Berklee College of Music which was famous for jazz and modern American music, but left for New York City a year later. His career began to take off in New York after he was hired by Art Blakey to play in his band The Jazz Messengers, and then with the Charles Lloyd Quartet. In the 1960s, Jarrett experimented with rock styles as well as jazz, toured the world with the Charles Lloyd Quartet and recorded solo material and other work with his trio.
In the 1970s, Jarrett worked extensively with the Miles Davis group, as well as extensions of his trio, with whom he began to experiment with non-standard instruments and European folk music influences. At a similar time, Jarrett was also actively pursuing a career in classical music, composing his own work, and performing solo and with prestigious ensembles. As an extremely talented improviser, Jarrett has also worked in a free jazz idiom at various points in his career. In 2004, he was awarded the Léonie Sonning Music Prize—an award usually reserved for classical musicians and composers, and which had only ever once before been given to a jazz musician, Miles Davis. The award recognised Jarrett’s enormous contribution to contemporary music in all its forms.
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