Keith Jarrett: My Wild Irish Rose

Written by Joseph Li

Pianist and Coach

In category: Song of the Day

Published May 18, 2018

I’ve always viewed my journey with jazz and improvisation akin to someone’s journey with the game of golf – each year, I hope to suck just a little bit less than the previous one. And what’s the most common answer I would get when I asked jazz musicians how to get better at it? “Listen.”

The first time I listened to Keith Jarrett’s album The Melody at Night, With You marked probably the most significant point in my development, not just as a jazz musician, pianist, or even artist, but as a human being. I don’t think it made me “better” at any of those things, but I know without a doubt the experience turned my world upside-down. The album stands on top of my list of “desert island” items for a multitude of reasons, some too personal to share without you buying me a whiskey (or two) first.

As with so much art, some will get it, some won’t. Self-proclaimed jazz “connoisseurs” often turn their noses up at this sort of album with a “this isn’t jazz” label, but I’m willing to guess that’s partially because it dares to be something other than loud and fast. I’m also pretty sure we never held a conclave on who would serve as infallible curators of the entire art form.

I’m not here to preach the gospel of Keith Jarrett, but I owe much to the restrained, unapologetically simple, breathtaking beauty of his playing on this album, and to not at least share it with y’all would be dishonest on my part.

author: Joseph Li

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Seattle native Joseph Li has played and coached for Houston Grand Opera, Wolf Trap Opera Company, Minnesota Opera, The Shepherd School of Music at Rice University, Opera Lyra Ottawa, Arizona Opera, Opera Birmingham, and the Aspen Opera Theater Center. Last summer at Wolf Trap Opera he conducted Philip Glass’ chamber opera The Fall of the House of Usher in collaboration with the Halcyon Stage in Washington, D.C.; and performed in a two-piano recital alongside Steven Blier, Artistic Director of the New York Festival of Song. Mr. Li joined the faculty of Baylor University’s School of Music in 2016. Recent collaborations include appearances with Minnesota Opera, Arizona Opera, Lone Star Lyric, MATCH Theater, and the Dallas Museum of Art.


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