KEYBOARD MAGAZINE, October 2006 - Page 28
Excerpt from Part 2 of a three part series of articles on Keith Jarrett
by Ernie Rideout
THE MELODY AT NIGHT WITH RECOVERY
Serendipity seems to always play a role in Keith's music and
life. And in the case of facilitating his musical recovery,
technology had a part to play as well. He has two Steinways in
his studio, one a Hamburg and one and American. On the advise of
his long-time tuner Chris Solliday. Keith had his Hamburg
Steinway regulated according to David Stanwood's touch weight system (www.stanwoodpiano.com).
"Stanwood and my tuner transformed my instrument so that each key has
the same exact tension from top to bottom, as you press a key."
Keith said. "It eliminates the inertia starting to press a key, which
is called the breakaway. So playing very soft is possible for the
first time, while still in total control. You can also get true
legato on it, which is great for Mozart."
Another bit of technical progress led to an extreme case of
serendipity. "I called someone to buy a pair of mics." Keith
recalled. "so I could record while I was sick. I knew I couldn't
play, but I wanted to set the mics up in case I could ever play the
piano again. All I could do was look at the piano. So my
wife and I spent months trying to find the right spot in the room,
because it was a very slow process. I didn't know the guy I
bought them from real well, but he asked me how I'm doing. For
some reason, I told him "I'm not well, and my doctor thinks it's
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome." The guy says. 'I know who you should
call.' And he referred me to this lady who had it, who referred me to
With the right doctor, Keith began to recover, albeit slowly.
Finally in 1998, he was able to contemplate touching the piano
again. "I was sitting at the piano, and trying to create a
Christmas gift for my wife, Roseanne. I hadn't played the piano
until I started recording. I wasn't sitting there fooling
around. It was literally the first touching of the instrument I
could do. I wanted to really keep it simple. I didn't ever
know what songs I would play. I had no list. And never in
my life have I ever thought of playing "Be My Love." the way everyone
knows it. It's a horrible song. And then, something just
Keith recorded those first instances of his playing again, and though
he had no intent of recording an album, what was in the can was so
remarkable that he decided to release it as "The Melody at Night, With
You" But he wouldn't have been able to play at all at that point,
without the Stanwood system. "When you listen to it, you probably
notice that at some point in the disc, it sounds louder." he
reveals. "The level wasn't boosted, it's just that I was playing
so softly on the first cuts, softer than is possible on an unadjusted
instrument. As I got stronger, I was able to play louder.
You can hear that on the CD."