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Jarrett Wins Polar – Always Let Me Go

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The wondrous Keith Jarrett, the creator of ambient jazz with his seminal solo piano recordings in the ’70s, has a meaty, mind-expanding improvisational new live trio double-CD with Gary Peacock and Jack DeJohnette called Always Let Me Go, wherein they bat about bits of melody like cats with a mouse at great and leisurely length – angular and ruminative at the same time.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Music just announced that Keith Jarrett has won their Polar Music Prize:

    The Polar Music Prize for 2003 is being awarded to the American musician, Keith Jarrett, pianist, composer and master of the field of improvisational music.

    Keith Jarrett’s musical artistry is characterised by his ability to effortlessly cross boundaries in the world of music.

    Keith Jarrett began playing the piano at the tender age of three. He gave his first solo concerts as a child, touring with both classical works and his own compositions. His musical journeys have always transcended borders, as in his early trio recordings with their influences from blues, ragtime, gospel, folk music, pop and art music. In the late 1960’s, his pioneering efforts with the Charles Lloyd Quartet contributed towards breaking down the barriers between jazz and rock music. He followed up this musical fusion as a member of Miles Davis’ ground-breaking band, this time in a more electrified form.

    In “Spirits” (1985), in which all the instruments are played by Jarrett himself, the music moves into a limitless landscape of tones from distant times and worlds.

    Keith Jarrett, who has found his natural home on the ECM label since the 1970’s, has expressed himself over the years in the context of both jazz and compositions for various chamber music ensembles and orchestra.

    Through a series of brilliant solo performances and recordings that demonstrate his utterly spontaneous creativity, Keith Jarrett has simultaneously lifted piano improvisation as an art form to new, unimaginable heights.

    In the 1980’s, Keith Jarrett worked with his trio project, “Standards,” and turned the spotlight on “The Great American Songbook.” Together with bass player, Gary Peacock, and drummer, Jack DeJohnette, his further development of the art of group improvisation, in what can only be described as chamber music forms, has been completely outstanding.

    As a classical interpreter, Keith Jarrett has given us masterly versions of J.S. Bach, Handel, Mozart, Shostakovich and Pärt. As a pianist, he is unique in his position of being one of the foremost in both the worlds of jazz and classical music.

The ECM press release states:

    2003, the 20th anniversary year of the Keith Jarrett/Gary Peacock/Jack DeJohnette trio, begins with the announcement that Keith Jarrett has won the prestigious Polar Music Prize. Jarrett is the sole prize-winner this year as, for the first time, the Polar jury sets aside its habitual “popular” and “serious” categorization. The pianist has resolutely ignored such criteria throughout his career, and the terms can have little meaning when applied to the work of this perennially popular and eminently serious jazz improviser and classical interpreter.

    ….Presented in Stockholm by His Majesty King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden and administered by the Royal Swedish Academy of Music, the Polar Music Prize (instigated 1992) has come to be recognised as one of the world’s more significant music awards. The Polar Music Prize – awarded in the amount of one million Swedish Crowns – is given to individuals, groups or institutions in recognition of exceptional achievement in the creation and advancement of music. Past winners have included Pierre Boulez, Bob Dylan, Ravi Shankar, Iannis Xenakis, Joni Mitchell, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Witold Lutoslawski, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Dizzy Gillespie, Paul McCartney, Mstislav Rostropovich, Sofia Gubaidulina, Quincy Jones, Miriam Makeba, Stevie Wonder, Robert Moog, and Isaac Stern.

    Keith Jarrett will receive his prize from His Majesty King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden at a gala ceremony at Berwaldhallen in Stockholm to be followed by a celebratory banquet at Grand Hôtel on Monday the 12th of May. Her Majesty Queen Silvia and Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Victoria will be amongst the many other dignitaries attending.

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