Keith Jarrett on the importance of audio sound quality

My little contribution to the forum.

Leave aside KJ is my favorite pianist, his trio my favorite trio (RIP Gary Peacock).

Found this article, him talking about the importance of reproduction quality of what he records.

Good read, many good points that elicit reflection and appreciation.
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Thanks for sharing that! Great read!
Thanks for the article. Will go read!

I listen to KJ and Peacock nearly every day! I didn't know that Peacock had died. Jeebus, I'm disconnected.

I really love Peacock's work with Towner, by the way.

I've read that KJ's live Blue Note recordings are especially good, from an audiophile point of view. Do you have any favorites?

yes the 6 disc blue note series is outstanding, recording wise, and of course performance wise

in general, all kj's ecm recordings are amazing - only exception i recall is standards in norway, was mic'd from too far away, big hall effect but music seemed remote

Thanks for sharing. I need to listen to more by him, but I have the Koln concert and adore it.
jjss, thanks. It's hard to mic a piano well. I've had some good times going from one classical piece to the next, same piece but different recording, to see how it was done. They vary a lot, and there are different ways to succeed, and many different ways to fail.
Very interesting article thanks...

Thank you for posting that article. It was enjoyable.

Great stuff!  THANKS jj.
Thanks for sharing. Great read. Glad to see attempting to reach audio nirvana isn't any simpler for Jarrett than any of us.
+1 on quality of KJ  ECM recordings. Top notch. Wonderful talent.
Why won't he tell the brands of gear that he uses? I recall many years ago he used to endorse a now-defunct small brand of speakers with one name which I can no longer remember. It was probably about 40 years ago. I think that they might have been from California.

I saw KJ live in I believe the mid-70s at Orchestra Hall in Chicago.  It was a memorable evening for a few reasons. I had my Dad with me as I knew he was a keyboard person.

We got seated and shortly after a very drunk person was seated behind us. Shortly after he was seated he proceeded to vomit. I finally got the ushers to remove him and get the mess cleaned up.  All this before the concert started.

Towards the end of the first act someone about 3 rows back from the front started coughing. Instead of leaving they continued coughing. At the break before KJ left the stage he looked into the audience in the general area of the person coughing and said “I hope that bothered you as much as it did me” and he walked off.

At the start of the 2nd act as he got into the song he started to cough in rhythm with what he was playing.

Particularly like the Charles Ives' quote. Would make a great separate thread topic. 
You might notice that Keith Jarrett did not last very long with Miles and that none of Mile's players at the time ever related to Jarrett again very much unlike say, Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter who are glued together at the hips. 
I have an original vinyl copy of the Sun Bear Concerts. Only one LP was ever played, once. It is a testament to a man whose ego is the largest Jazz has ever seen. I just remember him for his phenomenal singing voice.
Needless to say I have no interest in whatever he thinks of high fidelity reproduction. 
Jarrett played a special piano with 97 keys called a Bosendorfer because he liked the additional body in the sound produced by the resonance of the additional bass notes. 

I adore Jarrett's playing but I find him unlistenable because of his quirky vocalizations he does while playing. I just can't get past it. 
I love his quote from the Sun Bear Box - "Think of your ears as eyes."
An interesting read.  Reportedly he was really unhappy with the Piano in the Koln Concert album, which was his biggest seller and his best known recording.
i attended the famous/infamous solo concert at davies symphony hall in winter where he took on the whole audience on coughing

definitely a prima donna factor here with kj - as is the case with so many musical geniuses (not to excuse his rudeness or belligerence to a paying audience) - i think it happens most in solo gigs where he feels the most 'pressure' to find inspiration

his ’vocalizations’ are also something of a challenge... something akin to noise on analog records... at some point you listen through it

all that being said, his talent, musicality, melodic sense - to me - is unmatched

many other great pianists i love - chick, mehldau, ahmad jamal, lil joey - but to my ear and my musical sensibilities kj is tops
I think Jarrett's live recordings are great, because no one in the audience dare make a single noise...he's famous for walking off the stage and leaving the theater over the smallest audience noise.  God help the poor patron who leaves his/her cell phone on ring.

Actually, a few years ago, the New York Philharmonic actually stopped a performance when a cell phone went off in the audience.  Not cool for the wealthy patrons who paid upward of $300 for a front-row seat.
Speaking of Keith Jarrett and sound quality, I still wish there were no tics  and pops on my multi-album solo concert of his from the 1970's.  In this respect, the CD is definitely more pleasing.
found this ---->

Actual gear

From "Jazz Times", circa 2005

"One of the problems with being a musician is you don't have time to be a proper audiophile," he says. "To be proper, you have to be insane all the time and obsessed all the time. You need a psychotherapist after a while. And I would also say this about improvising alone on stage: It is a kind of craziness, a certain insanity. You need a certain type of craziness to be a musician, and also to get into this audio thing appropriately. So I've learned that if I'm only an audiophile part time, it works really well.

"Luckily, it's not a process that is continuing for me anymore-what I've been using for quite a while is a high-end tube preamp from Convergent Audio Technology with very good transistor monoblocks [BEL 1001 Mk III], which are way underrated at this point."

Recently, Jarrett put a couple finishing touches on his dream system, which he uses for work as well as for his rare moments of leisure: "I was completely blown away by one of the most revelatory things I've ever heard: the ELP turntable, the laser turntable. The presentation is not like anything I've ever heard before from an LP. As soon as it arrived, instantly, my entire record collection was brand new. I've never had that experience. I'm listening to real people and real bass-you even get depth and layers out of mono recordings.

"Almost equally revealing are the new speakers I recently purchased, the Eidolon Diamonds from Avalon Acoustics," Jarrett continues. "I kept hearing things through them thinking I must have blown a driver because I was hearing this distortion. But I got out my Stax electrostatic headphones, which are very revealing, and listened very closely-then realized there was distortion over there in the right channel. I'd never heard it before. I went back to the speakers and it was plain as day, something apart from the music. The speakers are amazing at revealing those kinds of recording realities, and also lifelike instrument size. And I had to learn all over again that every recording was made in a different space, on a different day, with different mikes, as though I shouldn't know that already."

"My reference system allows me to listen to a master tape or a test CD, so that if I say 'OK' to it, I say 'OK' to it. It'll be out there forever," he says. "Since the inception of digital, I have been disappointed with every single piano recording I've ever made, with the exception of two or three, and I'm now able to describe accurately to Manfred what I hear that I don't like.

"Sometimes in audio the adjectives are very hard to find, like describing wine," Jarrett says. "You have to develop a whole new vocabulary. Manfred likes to use the word 'silvery'-he likes that sound of the piano-and I would never want a piano to sound 'silvery.' But he might mean what I mean-it's just hard to know."
I bought my first and only Keith Jarrett CD many years ago, and I too found the muttering and groaning unbearable. I gave it away and never looked back. There are many other great pianists that keep their mouths closed.
Ironically, in KJ ECM albums his piano  is not that well recorded (perhaps his tube monoblocks are not that good so that he still does not realise that?) , and in many of the ECM trio albums Gary Peacock's base in somehow on the second plan (a great base player). (As to the ECM recordings in general which I admire, unfortunately, most of 70s and early 80s ones are not really well recorded and from 90s some of them could have been recorded better, where some are indeed well-recorded.) I personally like KJ's early Impulse albums more (with Charly Haden and Paul Motian). Later he was so lucky to work with Peacock and DeJohnette on ECM. Though, most of the trio albums are somehow similar, live recordings playing standards. There are many other pianist that do this equally well. I still have many his CDs and sometimes enjoy to listen to them. Comparing him to his early partner Jan Garbarek, perhaps, KJ is still less creative. Apparently, in his early years he was still able to learn something from Miles Davis, as it did many other outstanding jazz musicians. 

He is of course a good piano player but perhaps a bit complicated and ambitious personality. I was born in Georgia in ex Soviet Union (Georgia is one of the oldest countries on the earth and on of the first
Cristian (from 4th century) countries with three different alphabets).  There is a traditional jazz festival there each year (in which many outstanding jazz musicians participated, Charles Lloyd, John McLaughlin just to name a few). Once KJ was kindly invited to that festival. His answer was something like "I do not visit exotic countries" (you may not accept but don't be offensive and don't disclose your poor education). 

Thanks for sharing the link, it was interesting to read his interview and to know his thoughts and his audio setup.