British Jazz Pianist Keith Tippett Dies at 72


Keith Tippett (1947–2020)

(Photo: Facebook)

Pianist/keyboardist Keith Tippett, a titan of the British music scene who worked in jazz, progressive rock, experimental and classical music, has died from undisclosed causes, according to The Guardian. He was 72.

A June 14 post on his Facebook page read, “We are very sad to learn that Keith Tippett passed away today. Details have not been released. Keith, a gentle loving, vivacious, incredible spirit will rest peacefully now.”

During a long career, Tippett performed with numerous groups, including Mujician, Symbiosis, Ark, Ovary Lodge and Centipede, an ambitious, 50-piece jazz ensemble that he founded. Among rock fans, Tippett is revered as a keyboardist who contributed to prog-rock band King Crimson’s albums In The Wake Of Poseidon (1970), Lizard (1970) and Islands (1971). He reportedly turned down an invitation to join the band.

Other Tippett collaborators included Louis Moholo-Moholo, Stan Tracey, Robert Wyatt and the singer Julie Driscoll, whom he wed in 1970. She changed her name to Julie Tippetts, using the original spelling of his family surname.

Born Keith Graham Tippetts on Aug. 25, 1947, in Bristol, England, he played jazz as a youngster. In 1967, he moved to London and formed the Keith Tippett Group, a jazz group that released You Are There ... I Am Here (1970) and Dedicated To You, But You Weren’t Listening (1971).

Later in his career, among the other settings in which he performed was a trio with his wife and the drummer Willi Kellers.

Tippett also was a jazz educator who taught workshops for young musicians, including mentoring members of the Western Australian Youth Jazz Orchestra in 2016.

Tippett’s solo piano album Live in Triest, which was recorded in Italy in 2010, was released in 2018.

King Crimson guitarist Robert Fripp—who produced the 1973 self-titled album by Ovary Lodge—posted a tribute to his late friend that included this message: “Fly well, Brother Keith! My gratitude to you.” DB

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