hopelessness and the unplayable piano

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This weekend Stormzy headlined at Glastonbury. Amazing creativity, energy, and perfectionism.

A creative perfectionist who was part of my youth is the jazz pianist, Keith Jarrett, and the other day I heard this story about him.

In the 70’s he was beginning to play incredible improvised solo concerts to capacity audiences. Remarkably a 17 year old German jazz fan starting out as a promoter managed to book him for a gig in Cologne. But when she and Jarrett walked on to the stage on the day of the concert there had been a mistake.  Instead of the prescribed Bösendorfer 290 Imperial concert grand there was a badly tuned rehearsal piano with broken pedals.

This was a perfectionist, a man who handed out cough sweets to his audience so they didn’t disturb the music. Even as the audience was arriving he was on the verge of walking out, but somehow the young woman convinced him to play, and he took the limitations of that broken, hopeless instrument and made something great.

The concert was recorded and Keith Jarrett – The Köln Concert became the biggest selling solo jazz album of all time.

If you think that the climate, or the environment, or our society or our politics is broken or hopeless and you feel like walking away, have a listen to the Köln Concert. Interviewed later Jarrett said of the moment he decided to play, “My sense was – I have to do this. I’m doing it. I don’t care what the f*** the piano sounds like. I’m doing it. –  and I did.”

And if you want to know about succeeding against the odds, ask Stormzy!

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