Getting to know Keith Jarrett’s “Lucky Southern”

Hey Improvisers,

When I was 15 years old and just getting into piano improvisation, a friend of mine played me Keith Jarrett’s Köln Concert album. Wow! I couldn’t believe that someone could improvise music like this, and my world was changed forever.

It may be difficult to imagine a time when Keith Jarrett wasn’t playing standards, but at that time (1979), Jarrett’s music could be generally divided into four categories:

1. Solo piano (primarily improvised)

2. The American Quartet (and KJ Trio)

3. The European Quartet

4. His classical compositions

As I eagerly absorbed all of this music, I also went back to Keith’s earlier output, from the late 1960s – early ‘70s. His compositions from that period intrigued me, since they combined elements of jazz, pop, rock, folk, and gospel music. His composition “Lucky Southern,” from 1972, is a good example of this blending of musical styles. It’s also a good “first” Jarrett tune to learn.

I’ve made a video to show you how you can get started learning how to play “Lucky Southern.” Check out how closely it mirrors Duke Ellington’s classic
“Take The ‘A’ Train” in the ‘A’ Sections.

Lucky Southern: Journey Through The Real Book #219

If you like this tune, use it as a “gateway” into the wonderful early work of Keith Jarrett, which has in some ways been overshadowed by his later work with his “Standards Trio,” which he formed in 1985.

Enjoy the journey, and “let the music flow!”


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