Fred Haas is a musician one can only hope will keep recording because not even the jazz media is eternally obtuse. His recording I Thought About You
highlights his tenor saxophone accompanied by pianist Bob Hallahan. This CD is a world away from a breezy throw together session. It documents a subtle, sophisticated exchange by two intelligent musicians who demonstrate little interest in taking any of the easy routes out.
Hallahan is an excellent accompanist who plays with restraint and tact, but just beneath the surface is a sensibility that is crucial to the success of this recording. Hass plays a poignant tenor honed to the emotional possibilities of the compositional material and to the piano voice of his capable accompanist. These two listen to each other intensely; part of the beauty of this recording is the fine shadings of response in the respectful dialog of these two musicians.
The opening track, “Theme For Ernie” sets the after hours tone of this session. Haas frames the track with two outstanding slow tempo solos displaying his typically graceful command of phrasing and dynamics. Hallahan’s long connecting solo develops the opening mood as the dialog shifts from the sax to the piano. Hallahan has a clear, bright right hand technique and a subtle left hand with a solid bassists sense of time.
Haas’s solo saxophone performance on “Embraceable You” is worth several studies. This performance highlights Haas’s elliptic use of silences, his ability to imply without feeling a need to totally define. This is a wonderfully sculpted solo performance that shows just how accomplished a musician we’re listening to.
Perhaps, I Thought About You could be criticized for a focus too much on slow to medium tempo standards. But we can project this desire to hear a few up-tempo numbers toward a future recording involving this duo. This CD is full of beautiful, thoughtful music that deepens with repeated listening, a jazz rarity in our time. Highly recommended.