When pianist Keith Jarratt arrived at the Köln (Cologne) opera house in 1975, ready to give a concert, he found that the wrong piano had been set up on the stage. It was an old, practice piano. Some of the keys were stuck, others were out of tune. The upper register was harsh and tinny. It was just not the kind of piano a musician of his calibre could be expected to perform on and so he refused to play.
But somehow the young promoter convinced him to go ahead anyway. And by choosing to work within the constraints he had been given, he unexpectedly created what has since become the most successful solo jazz album of all time and the most popular piano album in history.
The challenges offered by working within the confines of the ‘wrong’ piano became an opportunity to create something extra-ordinary: something “magical, amazing, breathtaking, electrifying” … “A masterpiece.”
We all face challenges. Overcoming these challenges is not a barrier to our job, it is our job. And in the ways we choose to respond, we all have the opportunity to create a masterpiece.
You can listen to the full concert here.