Léonie Sonning Prize 2004

Keith Jarrett

Keith Jarrett received the Léonie Sonning Music Prize of DKK 500,000 on Wednesday, 7 July 2004 at a concert in Tivoli Concert Hall during the Copenhagen Jazz Festival.

The music prize was presented by the head of music at Tivoli, Lars Grunth.

The programme

Improvisations

with:

Keith Jarrett, piano
Gary Peacock, bass
Jack DeJohnette, percussion

Motivation

The 2004 Léonie Sonning Music Prize of DKK 500,000 is awarded to the pianist Keith Jarrett, who as a musical thinker and creator has developed his own unmistakable musical language, characterised by sublime musicianship, imagination and intelligence. Keith Jarrett has experimented and innovated without rejecting tradition, and without being pressurised by contemporary or musical trends, he is now recognised as one of the greatest figures of the present-day international jazz world.

Keith Jarrett and Denmark

Keith Jarrett was known, respected and loved by the Danish jazz public – as he also was but lovers of classical music – for with Michala Petri he recorded in 1992 six Bach flute sonatas, and in 1999 flute sonatas by Händel. The year that Michala Petri received the Sonning Music Prize, Jarrett had just been in Copenhagen to give a concert, but he had in fact been here several times since 1966, including a concert in Tivoli Concert Hall and at the Copenhagen Jazz Festival in 1999, when he gave a concert in the Circus Building, Copenhagen with great success.

The daily press

wrote, among other things:

“It was a revitalised Keith Jarrett who first received the Sonning Music Prize with the words: ‘Well, that’s nice’ and then sat down at the black Steinway, where he through his playing demonstrated what he had said in his speech: that he had not been put on this earth to receive prizes but to translate music [...] Jarrett was very much alive. Almost danced at his grand piano. Got up, bent at the knees, ducked down, stood on tip-toe, sat down on the stool again. Improvised so the hairs rose on the back of one’s neck. And constantly emitted his characteristic laments during his playing. Was serious, yet went as far as to parody Victor Borge [...]”

(Ivan Rod, Jyllands-Posten)

“Jarrett has a fantastic touch, a fluid and light playing style that allows him to be present even in the most diminutive ballad playing – yes, even when he scarcely touched the keys in Peacock’s and DeJohnette’s solo he could be noticed. Always curious to explore just how far the elastic could stretch, how far out he could entice himself and his musical companions. For almost two hours the elastic was stretched to breaking point, but not once did it snap.”

(Anders Jørgensen, Information)

“[...] At times he stands up when he is playing, at other times he is completely hunched over the keys. In that way he is part of his heart-rending phrasings, taking them further than the listener at first imagines, in the same way that a singer can impress one by singing incredibly long phrases at a single breath.”

(Eva Hvidt, Kristeligt Dagblad)

“[...] And yes, the trio comes in and goes out, and goes out and comes in to receive the standing ovation of the audience, and fortunately the three musicians return to their respective instruments. And yes indeed – here comes the loveliest imaginable interpretation of Victor Young’s beautiful ‘When I fall in Love’. The trio takes us on a fairytale excursion that is rounded off by Keith Jarrett – unaccompanied. A quite unique postlude that saves stars – at the finish.”

(Kjeld Frandsen, Berlingske Tidende)