Colin Spiers

Research area: Intention, Expectation and Reception: a Syncretic Approach to the Solo Concerts of Keith Jarrett

At present, Colin’s research interest is centred upon improvisation, using the solo performances of the famous American jazz pianist Keith Jarrett ( as a laboratory to test various issues regarding the tensions between the ontology of recorded improvisations and musical works, and the more general tensions surrounding Jarrett’s intentions in the solo concerts and the audiences expectations (both as direct and indirect listeners).

In light of the complexity of this situation, Spiers’s thesis proposes that the most compelling way to achieve a truly balanced evaluation of Jarrett’s solo concerts is by adopting a syncretic approach that embraces the above potentially contradictory aspects of intention and expectation, as well as reception.

These viewpoints are applied to the distinctive instancing of this music, manifested through the opposing philosophical perspectives of experientialist/concatenationist and reflective/hermeneutic practices, and will be achieved through a blending of phenomenological, semiotic and ‘standard’ analytical methods.

In addition, an exploration of the relationship between the Fourth Way philosophy of G. I. Gurdjieff (, whose ideas have had a seminal influence on Jarrett’s thinking regarding his improvisation process and its relationship with the musical product, is being undertaken.