Mark’s Minute : Keith Jarrett’s Story

Keith Jarrett

I love to tell stories to get a point across and if you’ve heard me speak you know I always say, “Facts tell, and stories sell.” To that that end I am always looking for stories that either inform or inspire and this one does both so take a few moments and enjoy…

The best-selling solo jazz and solo piano album of all time happened completely by accident. The live, sold-out concert in at the Opera House in Köln, Germany was scheduled at midnight and Keith Jarrett refused to play because the stage crew had misunderstood their instructions and placed a rehearsal piano on stage and then went home.

The piano was badly out-of-tune, the keys on the upper register weren’t working and the pedals stuck. When Keith arrived, he discovered, to his dismay, that playing to a packed house on a sub-par instrument was definitely not going to happen, so he refused to play. The young promoter of the concert, 17 at the time, was able to find someone to tune the piano but couldn’t do anything about the upper register keys, nor the pedals.

Don’t throw in the towel when adverse conditions such as rules & regs hamper your ability to perform your job. Step up to the challenge and find new ways to operate and rise above the negativity.

The crowds were beginning to file in and the young women begged Keith to perform. He agreed, under one condition- that he record the session so he could use it to demonstrate to other promoters the importance of doing their job correctly. Because he was a jazz pianist and was playing from his heart and not from sheet music, he knew what he could do and couldn’t do, and what keys he could use and couldn’t use. During the recording, you can actually hear him groan as he was standing, pounding on the keys so the inferior piano’s sound would travel to the back of the concert hall.

The recording was released soon after and today Rolling Stone Magazine named it one of the top 50 live recordings you must hear.

Was it luck or was it the years of preparation? Sometimes it takes a little of both. My point… don’t throw in the towel when adverse conditions such as rules & regs hamper your ability to perform your job. Step up to the challenge and find new ways to operate and rise above the negativity.

 

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