Keith Jarrett: The Complete Interview

In 2011 I interviewed Keith Jarrett at the time of the release of his Rio album. A story resulting from the interview is available on this site (, but several people have asked to read the complete transciption, so here it is…

JS: What a remarkable achievement Rio is. I received an advance copy of it only a couple of days ago. I’ve listened to it three times, and often, to me, it sounds like no music I’ve ever heard before, including from you. I presume it must be enormously satisfying to extend yourself to that degree?

KJ: Ah, yes. Somebody else asked me if it was an affirmation of my career and I said “yes”. When I was a little kid and I was studying piano I would get music and it would look too difficult, so occasionally I remember saying to my mother, “I don’t think I can play this piece.” And she would say, “Can you play the first note?” I said, “Yes.” “Can you play the second note?” “Yes.” “Well then you can probably play the piece.” So I think my whole work has been evolving in that particular way. In other words an improviser can get away with a lot; with kind of filigree and ornaments and basic jazz licks, and personal choices that are easy for his or her fingers to remember. But I didn’t have that in mind as my goal. My goal was to be freer all the time. I never wanted to keep anything, and hold it too close to me. And when I go into a solo concert – people ask me why are you still touring? You’re so successful. My brother said, “Why do you buy a house in the south of France and just retire and realise what you’ve done for piano?” I said, “Do you know who you’re talking to?”Jarrett Rio 1 res

And the fact is that Rio is proof of something for me. It’s proof that what I spend my time doing can work like that. The only thing is that it can’t work on purpose. It can’t work because you want to have it work when you walk out on stage. It takes a certain amount of crazy convergences of reality. And I think that’s what I got there. I strangely and mysteriously to Steve Cloud, my representative on the West Coast – I had played in Rio once, solo, many years ag0 – and I said I thought there was unfinished business in Brazil. Now even I didn’t know what I meant, but Rio is that. That was the answer, when I listened to the tape for the first time. I was so busy playing the concert I didn’t realise what I had done.

JS: Actually that’s what I was going to ask: Whether you have a sense of what’s being achieved while it’s happening, or only on playback?

KJ: No, you really don’t have a sense of that. I remember feeling strangely at ease when I went out on stage right in the beginning, and all the way through. There was a lack of a certain kind of stress. My wife had left three years ago. I have someone who’s been giving me more hope than I thought I would get from any person. This of course can help me stay relaxed, and an improviser, if he’s stressed out on stage, the music isn’t going to come. But I did not get a sense of the structure being so tight. I may have had a vague feeling of how good I was at keeping the pieces only as short or as long as they should be, and not letting them go any further. It was feeling like I wasn’t even playing my own music. It was kind of weird.

JS: So there’s no conscious part of your mind thinking about structure. That’s just as intuitive as striking the keys?

KJ: Yes, there’s absolutely nothing. And the same thing is true with the trio. Even though we’re playing songs, we never know what we’re going to do until the last note is over in the previous song. But that’s my forte, I think. People that write about me have maybe not failed to notice that, but it isn’t talked about much: that one of my chief – if not the most important – strengths that I have is programming, from zero. In a way it’s programming, and yet my brain is not telling me what to do. It’s how the sound just before has left the hall. Or if I’m in the middle of improvising how this chord I start with – there’s a couple of great examples on Rio. The third to the last thing is a pure A minor chord, all the way up: octaves and triads. If somebody said I want you to improvise, and here’s how you’re supposed to start, and they said, “I want you to play this chord”, they would have locked me in a closet somewhere. But If you sit at the piano and find your fingers s – I can’t even explain how this works, but it’s got to be something that’s worthy of study. [He laughs.] But I’m not the one to do it.

But when I played that A minor chord I had no idea why I played. I hadn’t thought of it, I didn’t walk out on stage – unfortunately there was a lot more audience applause, so there was a lot more time between I think it’s track 12 and track 13. It would give the listener a little more feeling of how surprising that chord was. But the element of surprise is what I deal in. That’s what I do. But that chord being so traditional surprised the hell out of me. You know, like “Woh! I just started something.” But Brazil and this whole part of the world has a relationship to this chord, and what do I do with the chord? And then what happened was I brought myself down to Brazil, I had a Brazilian audience, and that chord somehow falls right in the middle of what the audience and myself are very familiar with. And then I just took it wherever I took it, nanosecond by nanosecond. So what really is surprising to me about the recording is how tight and compositional some of these things are.

JS: Yes. Which implies that part of your brain is aware of what you played six minutes before, while you’re playing what you’re playing now.

KJ: Yeah, I believe that’s true. But I don’t know in what language it’s aware of that. I don’t know if it’s a musical language. I know my commitment into the process. I don’t commit to a subject. But I love melody and the potential of melody and harmony so much that, obviously, although I’m involved in the process, I’m busy sculpting something. But I don’t see that sculpture. Maybe even the audience sees it first.

JS: But is there any sort of clash between being completely intuitive and spontaneous, and yet consciously – beforehand, not at the time – wanting to avoid previously used vocabulary?

KJ: There often is that, but there wasn’t that night. I think what happened was everything that I would call me – like if I go and play in Detroit, or if I go and play in – I don’t know – Liechtenstein, I’m bringing myself to the hall, and bringing myself to the country that I’m in. But, essentially, most of the time what I’m doing is injecting, delivering something that comes from me. But what happened in Brazil made me wonder if I should ever play again, because it was like an achievement of blending that wasn’t even intentional. Feeling this place out, and feeling what the audience was feeling, and they were feeling what I was playing, and having something new come of that. Luckily the Brazilian music is full of things that I normally might do, things I might play, but not in as concentrated a way as Rio turned out to be. There I was, with the people, and I’ve heard Brazilian music, as every listener has, and it has a relationship to jazz. And there was no moment when I decided to play a Brazilian piece. I might have realised from the language, and from the singers I’ve heard singing in Portuguese on some of the ballads – if you could can call them ballads, I don’t know what to call them m – the slower more melodic things often have e – actually I shouldn’t even say that. Everything on that concert has the ability to have a moment which is Brazilian.Jarrett Rio 2 res

JS: So the country that you’re in, the audience that fills the hall, the hall itself, the piano: all these things are of equal importance as what one might call sources of inspiration, or aspects that inflect what happens?

KJ: Yes, and I would say that I never thought about this, but it seemed to me afterwards when I listened to the tapes, it seemed to me that there was no other place. It had to be out of the loop. It had to be out of Europe, America, Japan, the first world or whatever you might call it. It had to be somewhere outside that. I was in a different hemisphere; I was playing an American Steinway, which was the first time that we recorded on an American Steinway, and it was in America, but South America. That was all accidental, in a way, but it’s all part of what played into this. But the main thing being that, let’s say bossa nova, they way they use chords, the way the like to use substitutional chords that are not immediately logical, but after the fact you realise they’re very logical. I just kept that in mind occasionally. I kept trying to keep in mind where I was, and then I just let the music go, and do what it did. So I think it was the first time I was actually playing that much for the audience. It wasn’t bringing my stuff and like laying it on them.

JS: There’s something startling about the quality of the applause on the recording, like you can tell the connection that’s being made.

KJ: Exactly, and there was more of that than you can hear on the CD because it got edited somewhat for good reason, but I would have left it all there. But we’ve had complaints from the Carnegie Hall release. We’ve had complaints from – like people would time how much applause there was: “You’ve got 11 and a half minutes of applause: that’s too much.”

JS: It’s interesting that you say that’s an American Steinway, because I was going to say how gorgeous it sounds, particularly at the top end. The clarity and beauty and definition on Rio IX, for instance, I thought was astounding. so when you have a choice of pianos at a venue or a studio, what are the qualities you’re looking for, and did you have a choice in this case?

KJ: No, I don’t think so. I can’t remember that I did. Oh, here’s something interesting: this was the first – for many years I’ve been doing sound-checks: checking pianos, and then trying to play a little something on them. Anyway, I decided before I went to South America that I did not want to do the sound-checks any more, because what used to happen was the music would start at sound-check. It was an empty hall, and something would start to lick, and I would think, “Oh shit, this is not a good time for this, and then I might be stuck with what just happened, and I can’t get it out of my head.” So when I went to do Rio I didn’t even touch the piano, more than play the scales and a couple of things that were not music, and then wait, have dinner, and went back stage and then went back for the concert. But I’m glad you mentioned the piano, because I don’t know if you know how much – where did you get the copy you have? It’s a production copy?

JS: Yes.

KJ: Well I have been working on that. It should have been easy. It was a solo piano concert. I had my engineer who I like. First we heard this weird pedal sound, and I thought, “We have to try and do something about that”, and they tried a couple of times, and I kept hearing the music get more distant, more refined. I didn’t even recognise it as an American piano. Then I afterwards realised the night of the concert we were all – I was given a CD copy, my engineer got one and my producer, Manfred in Germany, got one. But every copy of this music, whether DAT or CD – supposedly identical – they were all not the same. And the only way I could know that was by getting copies of everything, and listening back and forth and forward and backward and inside out to these things. Because I knew if this didn’t come out in as good a version as possible I would hate myself for the rest of my life.Jarrett Rio 5 res

Luckily the copy I was handed was the one that was closest to my memory of the sound. And that was used for the master. And so that went one to one from what I was handed that night. It’s almost part of the “you never know what’s going to happen” thing: that turned out to be the only one – out of say six or seven different versions, eventually y – that was the only one that was acceptable to me. But I had to improve upon it. I’ve been involved with audio for a long time, and I knew of a certain liquid that helps make the CD more readable to the laser, so the machine doesn’t have to use error correction as much. Every CD anybody puts in their machine, half of what they’re hearing is tiny errors caused by error correction, because it’s a process. So I’m glad you mentioned the piano, because it took me along time before you said, “Okay”. I think it was only three weeks ago that I actually said, “Okay, thumbs up, it’s okay. You can release it.”

JS: Did Manfred have a substantial input into that process?

KJ: Well yes. Actually in the end – again, let’s say everything’s by chance, really – by chance, even though I had my Japanese girlfriend here visiting, Manfred happened to be in New York, and at that moment I also happened to have heard everything, and nothing lived up to expectations but my own personal copy. And I wasn’t willing to let it go out of my hand. So first we had a guy from New York come out and make a one-to-one – an engineer who brought equipment – make a copy, and I also couldn’t say “okay” to that. So in the end Manfred went into some kind of high-end studio in New York with – I have an employee here who helps me; it’s a big house in the country – I had him drive my copy into New York, at which point luckily Manfred was in that city, and went into a studio the next day and very, very, very, very, very, very carefully made a transfer, and sent that to Hanover, Germany, and the white label appeared, and I could finally say “okay”.

JS: What a process!

KJ: My God, you wouldn’t t – people ask me what I do for a living! [Laughs.] If they only knew the parts like this, or getting the cover right. That by itself took so many iterations before I just finally wrote an email saying, “Look pretend a kid in Brazil was given a box of paints, and he just did some stuff: that’s what the cover should look like. It shouldn’t look sophisticated.” There’s rawness, vividness and presence here that I can only say isn’t normal for a piano recording. You mentioned the treble in the piano: the bass has a pointillistic quality that very few pianos generally have. And it’s almost only American Steinways when they have it. So since April when I called Manfred from the Rio airport and said, “Don’t do what we were planning next. Just scrap that, because we’re going to have to work on Rio right away. I thought I was talking about like a month, you know. But no, no, it became an epic.

JS: I suppose it’s fortuitous though that in Manfred you have a collaborator who will always see it through to the final iteration of everything that you are satisfied with.

KJ: Oh my God, yes. Nobody every agrees all the time, but he and I work together in a mysterious way. We recently don’t talk that much, but when we talk it’s all about the stuff that we’re doing together, and it’s usually concise, and if I have a strong feeling I will tell him, and if he has a strong feeling he will tell me. There were going to be liner notes. He said, “No, no, no, I don’t think so.” I said, “Okay. I understand. Sounds good.”

JS: It’s been a remarkable relationship for 40 years. Would the whole “Keith Jarrett playing solo piano improvisations” career have gone the way it has had you never fallen in with Manfred and ECM?

KJ: No. No one would have done it. Forget the 10-record set that he and I put together, no one would have done the three-record set. And I remember Manfred and I were sitting in the studio long, long, long ago, maybe in the ’70s whenever Solo Concerts was released, and Ralph Towner walked in, and he sat there listening, and he said, “Wow, that’s great, man, but you’re going to release a three-record set? There’s no other instruments and there’s no singing and you’re going to release it?” And Manfred looked at him and said, “We think it’s good.” [Laughs.] And that’s the reason for everything we release.

JS: Across all the years of doing the solo performances, is there any pattern in the end music between the ones where there was some sort of adversity to overcome, which I believe was the case with the Koln Concert, for instance, and the ones where the stars align and the process leading up to it is very smooth? Was smooth Rio a smooth operation, or was there adversity to overcome?

KJ: No, it was very strange. I couldn’t explain why I felt at  ease, but that is not the result of having problems. So I don’t remember feeling like we had a big problem. But also every day I was talking to my friend in Japan, and I can’t express this very well, but her level of caring about what happens in the concerts, even though she was half way around the world, it was so able to be conveyed over the phone that if I talked to her let’s say on the way out to the stage, or backstage in between sets, or before the concert, I would get this complete feeling of support, I guess, is the only word I can come with. And one reason I decided not to do sound-checks was I didn’t want to know the problems. If there are problems, let them come when I get there.

JS: Presumably the care that you speak of receiving is something that you then reciprocate through the music?

KJ: Yes. There was hope in my life. It was a new kind of hope. It was an abstract hope. There was no plan. But sometimes that stuff is really powerful, because imagination and thought can be just as powerful as the presence of someone. I had to put her name on the recording. She’s in the list of special thanks.

JS: What is her name?

KJ: Her name is Akiko.

JS: And so if before the concert you’ve not played the piano, and you obviously try and avoid having preconceptions of what might then happen, how do you deal with the situation in the intermission, when you’ve just been playing this spectacularly intense music, and now you’re having a little break, do you still try to not think about music in the intermission? That must be almost impossible.

KJ: It’s harder, for sure, but somehow – I don’t how many times I’ve said to myself, or out loud, “How can I go out again and play anything after this last set?” But history has taught me that there’s always something there to be played. And the very first thing in the second set is according to a couple of the people I talked to – before I even had a chance to tell them that anything was special to me – they singled that track out as, if they had to choose one track – which they hoped they never wished they’d have to do – as the most important, they would have chosen that one.

JS: I agree. It overwhelmed me. On the first two listenings it made me cry, Keith. It was an amazingly powerful effect it had on me. And I played it to my lady love, and she’s only heard the whole album once, and she immediately said the same thing, that the first track on Disc Two is just astonishing.

KJ: It is. I agree. And what’s so weird is I know I played this concert, but to imagine playing this concert is impossible. Even though I did it, I can’t imagine doing it. I immediately got addicted to it on the CD I had, and every hotel room I had on the rest of the tour, if they had speakers in the room I’d listen to it again. I never did that in my life, and I’ve had a long solo career. And at breakfast a solo thing never made sense to me, but this can be any time of day, any random order. It’s so weird, but luckily there was an engineer there. And luckily for me I don’t let Manfred choose dates that he thinks “This is the right room we should record on this tour.” I record every concert, and he has nothing to do with that process, and so there’s an awful lot of money sunk into that reality, but when I realise that Rio would never be on tape – Because that hall, if you were a producer you wouldn’t choose that hall. It had doors that maybe didn’t close all the away, and if people left you may hear the sound. Sao Paulo has a brand new concert hall, I played there, and that would have been the one that Manfred would have decided to record at.

JS: When you played in Rio all those years earlier, was it the same room?

KJ: I think it was.

JS: You’ve raised an interesting point in that this was just one concert in a tour. Was it particularly scary going out to do it again in the wake of Rio?

KJ: Yes. But luckily it was Argentina, so there I was at least not in Brazil. The colours, the shapes the feel of the city would help me get over this. But one big question did arise after I realised how good this was – I shouldn’t even call it good: it’s pivotal or something, and it won’t die. You can listen to it a hundred times more in the next few months, and you’ll feel the same way about that first track; you’ll feel the same way about the whole concert. Usually by the time that I release something, I’m not exactly tired of it, but I don’t sit around listening to it.Jarrett Rio 3 res

But the big question after Rio was, Okay, how do I ever do this somewhere else? How do I even return to Rio? I would be competing with a complete mystery. So it presents problems. It’s like when you get a lifetime achievement award, and you’re looking forward to it, and you get it, and you say, “Wait. That’s the end of my career?” [Laughs.]

JS: Does the risk-taking and stress of doing this incline you to have a particularly ordered and routine-driven private life?

KJ: I would say so, yeah. I would say I’m isolated, really. I’m now engaged. The plan is that I will have a mate here. She’s making this giant leap of faith, because she’s single, luckily, I mean there’s no complication there. She’s had the same job for 20-some years. She was in fashion, and a personal secretary and stuff like that. She’s been with the same boss, and she’s lived in the same small apartment for 13 or 14 years, and never desired anything to change. And she’s now packing her stuff and throwing it away, and she has a termination date for her job. The movers are coming to take her furniture out, cos they always do that in Japan. Even if you don’t want it, you have to let it go. And she’s taking this leap that I’m amazed at. She speaks English, but grammatically not as well as she would like.

JS: It’s very brave.

KJ: Yes, there’s a bravery here and boldness that impresses me no end. It’s like what does she think happens in my house? There’s a statement someone once said: it is so boring living with genius. [Laughs.] So I try every now and then to remind her, like there aren’t people passing; I don’t have a shop; there aren’t going to be people walking in and out. But there’s something between us that’s so important, we can’t let it go.

JS: Do you mind me asking how you met?

KJ: We met by my walking into a shop that she now and then helps out in, because she’s the only one that spoke any English there.

JS: So more serendipity, more luck.

KJ: It was actually after she prayed for good luck. Her father had died. She prayed at his grave at the shrine for good luck, came back to town, and that’s the first day I walked into the shop. She knew nothing of my work. She knew my name. She knew a lot of musicians, but she’s just never heard my work. It was raining all the time, so I kept going into the shop because it was the best shop in the hotel, and also I started to be fascinated by something. And she came out of her office, and said, “By the way, we have the same birthday,” and it just kept escalating. We have the same numerology number, the years we were born add up to the same number. It only happens ten times in the century that you have the same birthday and same numerology number at the same time, and not be the same age. So anyway, it just went from one thing to the next, and I’d basically met her for I’d say 20 minutes outside her shop. The last day we going to leave – I have a woman who is my tour assistant, who is unbelievable. She said, “Keith, go down by yourself. I have packing to do.” I said, “Wait, no, no, no, I don’t do dates. Don’t leave me!” I suddenly am at the elevator going down alone to meet her, and she eventually said, “Well, where’s Daniella?” And I said, “Well, I have to tell you: we’re not a couple.” And she said, “Really? No? That’s surprising.” We spent like 20 minutes, and we said goodbye, but we said goodbye with this hug, and I’ll never figure out the hug. It was like full of stuff that meant more than I could figure out, and we parted, and I couldn’t let that go. So I just started calling her all the time.

JS: What a beautiful story.

KJ: Yeah. It just gets better all the time. In the beginning she said, “Oh, Keith, what’s wrong? Why are you calling me?” “Nothing’s wrong. I don’t know why I’m calling you. Really, I don’t want to lose you, and I don’t think I have you at the moment.” [Laughs]. But it was very much like you could write a book about this.

JS: And congratulations on your engagement.

KJ: Yeah, thank you.

JS: [Having overrun the time-allocation] I suppose you’re wanting to stop doing this shortly, are you?

KJ: What? This talking?

JS: Yes.

KJ: You can go a little further.

JS: Is the timing from our chat because you go from here into your practice?

KJ: No, I go into the time of my 45-minute nap. [Laughs] Which is the perfect thing after an interview.

JS: I bet it is. I’m pleased I don’t have to do them. There are some aspects of your work that came to a stop like playing the saxophone, apparently composing and certainly recording classical music. Is it that improvising at the piano, whether solo or with the trio, was always the core of your work anyway, and you now find that enough?

KJ: The simple answer’s yes. The slightly more complex answer is when I got Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and didn’t know if I’d ever play again, many things became clear, as they often do when people suddenly stop dead. One of those things was I really hated my previous recordings. [Laughs.] Not hated, but I thought, “If this is my work, if this is all of my work, it’s not enough. It’s not cool. There’s too many notes here, for example.” And I said if I ever get a chance to play the piano again, which I literally could not do with that disease, that would be my focus. Improvising would be my focus, and the other stuff I would either do it or not do it. So you’re approximately correct.

JS: So in retrospect can we say that there was a positive from suffering that dreadful disease. Would this artistic maturation have occurred anyway?

KJ: No. Not with the same force of conviction. And also when people keep playing – and I often used to tell people who are on tour all the time, “How do you get new ideas?” Sometimes you have to stop. So this disease stopped me dead. I could only look at my piano. I couldn’t touch it. Then new life came after that. And also my goals were much more easy to see, because I had spent time thinking all I had was what I had recorded up to that moment, and that wasn’t cool to me, that was not good. It wasn’t that I didn’t appreciate it all, but if we’re going to connect this to Rio is an affirmation, and that is exactly what I should have done; exactly what I did. You can’t get there – like that piano… [Tape change.]Jarrett Rio 4 res

When a piano is uneven but alive, what you end up with is a much, much bigger palette of sounds. I’m also a master of speed. In number 1 I assessed the entire instrument. I knew which ranges were duller than others. I knew which ones I would have to play – like the upper mid-range needed more force to get the notes to sing. The mid-range and lower mid-range you almost couldn’t control it because there was a little bit too much of a zing in it. But the zing is something I wish for, and German pianos do not deliver that. German piano don’t sound like they have strings in them. They sound to like they’re silver-coated somethings, and they just go clang. But the Rio piano was funky in all the right ways.

JS: So having different tonal qualities across the range, did that make it like playing several instruments at once?

KJ: Yes, or transforming that instrument into another instrument. So like on the last track the way the waves of sound blend is not just the centre-tone but the overtones are there, and they’re unevenly there, so it’s more like another instrument than a piano. So there are things I could do that I’d done before on the Rio concert, but doing them produced a different sound, and made me go somewhere else. When I play perfect pianos, those were the worst concerts.

JS: That’s fascinating.

KJ: Because you play a chord, and the piano’s like a balanced entity. Everything is in balance; every note is doing what it should do, theoretically. But I play a chord on it and I think, “Oh, hey, that’s great, man.” But it was only a chord. It doesn’t make me want to do any more.

JS: Would I be right in saying that that’s just the sort of piano that someone playing a Beethoven sonata would long for?

KJ: Yes. Me too, if I were playing Shostakovich or Beethoven or anybody.

JS: If I may go back to coming out of Chronic Fatigue again, Keith, was going back to the piano like learning to walk again, or did it come readily?

KJ:  Well I wasn’t able to play more than a few minutes at a time without a relapse. So I don’t know what the answer is. The disease I had was a bacterial parasite. The bacterial parasite’s favourite food was oxygen. So any kind of exercise, including playing would bring the relapse on. So I had to just stretch that 10 minutes into 11 minutes into 12 minutes over a period of many months.

JS: So when you said in the documentary that it was like you body had been invaded by aliens, that’s exactly what it was.

KJ: It was that, yes.

JS: You said on that same documentary that composing for the American quartet was harder than composing for any other group. why was that?

KJ: Because everybody was going to be themselves, no matter what I wrote. But I had to write for the voices I had in that band. It wasn’t objective music such as I wrote for the European group. It was more music to take apart. Like if you give a child something and say, “This is a puzzle. Take it apart.” That was the American quartet. That was the challenge with them. Because Paul was never going to sound like any other drummer, and Charlie was never going to sound like any other bass player, and they were all very, very individualistic.

JS: So did that band and the European one intrinsically have finite artistic lives. Was it inevitable that they’d come to and end.

KJ: No, I don’t think so. It just happened. I had many, many, many dishes spinning at the same time.

JS: Can you imagine the current trio returning to doing improvised material again?

KJ: I don’t know. Gary’s having a lot of trouble with his hearing. He’s had a lot of horrible physical situations, but now his hearing is going. I doubt whether we would return to something as fragile as that. That would require him to know exactly what I’m doing. But if we play songs of any kind then he can ground himself in that tonal situation. So no, I don’t think that’ll happen.

JS: Finally it’s 30 years since you’ve been to Australia. Is there any hope in hell of your returning?

KJ: In hell? [Laughs.] I actually don’t know if there’s hope in hell for anything. It’s not impossible, but flying and travelling is not my favourite thing. I have a shoulder problem so I can’t sleep on flights, which is probably why I’m thankful that my Japanese friend is willing to fly.

JS: I thank you so much. You’ve been very generous with your time, and I congratulate you once again on a truly remarkable achievement, and it’s been a pleasure to speak with you.

KJ: Thank you, and I’m glad you like it. When I got my first copy, which was maybe four days ago, my fiancée said, “So how does it feel?” And I think she thought I’d say, “Exciting”. But I think she suspected it was a complicated feeling. And I said, “Nervous.” That was my answer. And I don’t know that can possibly be received the way I think it could be, cos everyone has different ears. But the music on this is, in my opinion, attractive music. It may be difficult, but I’m always worried about that. When Radiance came out I said to someone who was interviewing me, “I’m a little worried that people aren’t going to know how to listen to this because a lot of it is difficult.” And he said, “All you stuff is difficult. [Laughs.]

JS: I’ve never heard it like that.

KJ: I think he meant it in a good way; you’re a serious musician. But there’s something in this Rio thing that is playful and honest and true, and across the spectrum of listeners I think everybody will feel something good about it. And before I talked to anyone who had heard it, the natural thing is to sitting there with this in your hands going, “Will they get it?” I did my job, but now it’s out there.

JS: And you can’t control that part.

KJ: Yeah.