The Polar Music Prize for 2003 is being awarded to the American musician, Keith Jarrett, pianist, composer and master of the field of improvisational music.
Keith Jarrett’s musical artistry is characterised by his ability to effortlessly cross boundaries in the world of music.
Keith Jarrett began playing the piano at the tender age of three. He gave his first solo concerts as a child, touring with both classical works and his own compositions. His musical journeys have always transcended borders, as in his early trio recordings with their influences from blues, ragtime, gospel, folk music, pop and art music. In the late 1960’s, his pioneering efforts with the Charles Lloyd Quartet contributed towards breaking down the barriers between jazz and rock music. He followed up this musical fusion as a member of Miles Davis’ ground-breaking band, this time in a more electrified form. In “Spirits” (1985), in which all the instruments are played by Jarrett himself, the music moves into a limitless landscape of tones from distant times and worlds.
Keith Jarrett, who has found his natural home on the ECM label since the 1970’s, has expressed himself over the years in the context of both jazz and compositions for various chamber music ensembles and orchestra.
Through a series of brilliant solo performances and recordings that demonstrate his utterly spontaneous creativity, Keith Jarrett has simultaneously lifted piano improvisation as an art form to new, unimaginable heights.
In the 1980’s, Keith Jarrett worked with his trio project, “Standards”, and turned the spotlight on “The Great American Songbook”. Together with bass player, Gary Peacock, and drummer, Jack DeJohnette, his further development of the art of group improvisation, in what can only be described as chamber music forms, has been completely outstanding. As a classical interpreter, Keith Jarrett has given us masterly versions of J.S. Bach, Handel, Mozart, Shostakovich and Pärt. As a pianist, he is unique in his position of being one of the foremost in both the worlds of jazz and classical music.