Jazz is there and gone. It happens. You have to be present for it. That simple.
Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert were all masters of keyboard improvisation- the ability to use a well known melody as the basis for completely new, spontaneous music. Perhaps no one alive today continues that tradition more eloquently than jazz pianist Keith Jarrett. Jarrett describes the process in mystical terms. He says that his hands take over and “know what to play.” He finds “music that’s in the air that is ready to be played at all times.”
Keith Jarrett’s 2002 solo concert at Tokyo’s Metropolitan Festival Hall included this improvisation on Jerome Kern’s Ol’ Man River. Everything from pristine classical counterpoint to the soulful sounds of gospel emerge in this performance: