Borges and Jarrett

by Paul Burmeister

Yesterday, while working on the underpainting for a new image—a task laborious and meditative, I listened to Keith Jarrett's Bye Bye Blackbird (2000 ECM.) I had picked it up as a used copy several years ago, not because of Jarrett or his trio's tribute to Miles Davis, but because "Bye Bye Blackbird" is a favorite standard. This CD has grown on me, a personal appreciation that required more time than usual.

Are there similarities between Jorge Luis Borges and Jarrett? Do they share a similar regard for the usefulness of tradition? Do both of them treat ideas as the very stuff of their art, as intellectual possibilities presented within narratives? Are both of them comfortable with paradoxes of space? Where Borges placed emphasis on perfect plots, does Jarrett return to perfect melodies? Would both agree with Thelonious Monk that it's the inside of a thing that makes the outside good?