Keith Jarrett's endorsement:
Excerpt from the article:
<snip> The Melody at Night, withYou is the first album Jarrett has made since falling ill. "I started taping it in December of 1997, as a Christmas present for my wife," he recalls, "I'd just had my Hamburg Steinway overhauled and wanted to try it out, and I have my studio right next to the house, so if I woke up and had a half-decent day, I would turn on the tape recorder and play for a few minutes. I was too fatiqued to do more. Then something started to click with the mike placement, the new action of the instrument,... I could play so soft,... and the internal dynamics of the melodies... of the songs... It was one of those little miracles that you have to be ready for, though part of it was that I just didn't have the energy to be clever. <snip>
<snip>"There was something deep going on," he says matter-of-factly, and he might be onto something. Sometimes a great artist does everthing right and nothing happens; sometimes a sick man sits down carefully at the piano and suddenly finds himself 10 ft. off the ground. The trick, as Jarrett says, and the pleasure for listeners to this recording, is to be ready for anything, even a little miracle."
GO TO THE ECM SITE AT: http://www.ecmrecords.com/ecm/recordings/1675.html
With Host TERRY GROSS:
This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. One of the most famous pianists in jazz, Keith Jarrett, a musician acclaimed for his emotional intensity and his physically energetic, improvised, solo, piano performances, has had to keep his playing to a minimum in the past few years. He's had chronic fatigue syndrome since 1996. We recorded an interview with him from his home and discussed how
his illness has changed his approach to music. We also talked about his childhood in Allentown, Pennsylvania, when he was a piano prodigy. Jarrett says his health is improving, and he estimates that he is now about 70-percent recovered.
Last year, he released a solo album of ballads called "The Melody At Night, With You," which was recorded at his home. We'll listen to some of it. And we'll also preview his new trio CD of standards, called "Whisper Not," which will be released in October.
Jarrett used to be pretty manic in concert and very obsessive about his playing. I asked him how those traits have been affected by chronic fatigue syndrome.
Mr. KEITH JARRETT: I had to change everything about my approach before I could even start to play again. And "The Melody At Night, With You" was--is never going to be--there won't be another recording that's more important to me, in many ways. But one of them that I can explain easily is that I had not played for a long time.<snip>
Mr. JARRETT: Now there's so much to say about each song ("The Melody At Night,With You,"), because of the way the piano... I had had my piano overhauled in a special action,... a major change in the action. It gets technical if I try to describe all the things that happened, that were a part of that recording, without one of them, it would have failed. I would have, maybe, had something to give to my wife, but I wouldn't have listened to it and thought it would translate into everyone's home.
GROSS: So what you did was change the action on the piano so that you could have a lighter touch and still have the piano resonate?
Mr. JARRETT: Well, no. It's actually more complicated than that. There's a thing called the breakaway, which is like surface tension on water. Every piano that's stock from any company that I know of has a break-away. In other words, when you first push the key down, it's harder, and then it's not. So if you wanted to play very very soft, you still would be taking a giant risk because you'd have to press hard first, and then you'd have to let up before you hit the string.
Mr. JARRETT: And that's what every pianist is dealing with all the time.
And then I heard about someone (David C. Stanwood) who was able to, using
little springs and a whole barrage of ideas, including taking all the parts
out of the piano, and weighing them all, and making them exactly the same
weight,... every little piece of wood and metal I guess and all the bushings.
Everything had to be the same exact weight first. Then he has a way
where that break-away doesn't exist, but the action's the same weight resistance
against your finger. So it's a more liquid action when you press
down. If you want to play loud, you can still play loud, but there's
not that initial snap. You don't need to snap the key. So if
you listen to "The Melody At Night, With You" on a good system, you notice
the dynamic range is pretty wide for a piano recording that sounds so closely
miked. And I think that's a lot to do with that action.
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