The Italian Almanac

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Keith Jarrett

Flashed Out

Organizers of the Umbria Jazz festival said that they will never invite American pianist Keith Jarrett back, after he lost his cool and insulted the public and this central Italian city at the end of a performance. Jarrett refused to give any encores at the end of his second set because of the spectators taking pictures and, in reply to heckles from some members of the audience, called Perugia a "damn city".

"I can understand everything, even being obsessed about the cameras, but you cannot insult an audience and even an entire city just because of a few flashes," said the festival's artistic director Carlo Pagnotta. "As an artist Jarrett is sublime, but as a person he leaves much to be desired. It was unfortunate that we had to witness the schizophrenia of these two aspects," he added. "People came here from far away and spent a lot of money to see him and did not deserve to be treated like that. Of course, the insults from the audience are to be condemned, too, but by that time Jarrett had already spoiled the atmosphere. Although we have decided that his music will no longer be heard at Umbria Jazz."

Jarrett, 62, started his career playing with jazz greats Art Blakey, Charles Lloyd and Miles Davis. He came into his own during the 1970s playing both classical music and jazz, as a group leader and a solo performer. His improvisational technique combines not only jazz, but also other forms of music, especially classical, gospel, blues and various ethnic-folk musics.