Pianist Keith Jarrett suffered two strokes and is now unlikely to ever perform in public again, he has revealed in an interview with The New York Times.
Jarrett was scheduled to perform a solo recital at Carnegie Hall in March of 2018, but it was abruptly cancelled along with the rest of his upcoming concerts. ECM Records said it was for health reasons, but didn’t go into any more detail than that.
More than two years later, the 75-year-old has revealed in an interview with Nate Chinen that he had a stroke in late February of 2018, and then another one that May.
“My left side is still partially paralyzed,” Jarrett said. “I’m able to try to walk with a cane, but it took a long time for that, took a year or more. And I’m not getting around this house at all, really.”
He added: “When I hear two-handed piano music, it’s very frustrating, in a physical way … Because I know that I couldn’t do that. And I’m not expected to recover that. The most I’m expected to recover in my left hand is possibly the ability to hold a cup in it.”
Jarrett’s career began in 1964 when he moved to New York and started playing in jazz ensembles, first with Art Blakey and then with Miles Davis, Charles Lloyd and others. He has also led his own prominent trios, first with Charlie Haden and Paul Motian and later with Gary Peacock and Jack DeJohnette. But it’s his solo material that has had the biggest impact on his legacy, including the 1975 live album The Köln Concert, which remains one of the best-selling solo piano recordings of all time. In all, he has recorded more than 100 albums.
In his recent absence, Jarrett has still been releasing music. In 2018, he released the live trio album After the Fall and a solo performance called La Fenice. In 2019, he shared another two live recordings: Munich 2016 and J.S. Bach: The Well-Tempered Clavier Book 1. His longtime record label ECM will also be releasing Live From Budapest later this month.
If this indeed marks the end of Jarrett’s music career, he will leave behind a legacy as a prolific live performer whose concerts constantly showcased his unparalleled talent.
“I don’t know what my future is supposed to be,” Jarrett said in his interview with The New York Times. “I don’t feel right now like I’m a pianist. That’s all I can say about that.”
Read the full interview here.