Fans of Charlie Haden's lyrical duet album with guitarist Pat Metheny, Beyond the Missouri Sky
(Verve, 1997), will find the bassist's collaboration with guitarist Antonio Forcione, Heartplay
not the same, but certainly a not-too-distant cousin. Unlike Metheny, however, who utilizes an array of acoustic and electric instruments, Forcione works strictly with nylon string acoustic guitar here, making Heartplay
a less texturally diverse record, but an appealing one nevertheless.
The set of eight tunes is split almost equally between Haden and Forcione originals, with pianist Fred Hersch's "Child's Song the only exception. The overall ambience is one of gentle economy, but largely without the Midwestern flavor of much of Missouri Sky"Child's Song, again, being an exception. Instead, the songs range from the breezy Mediterranean vibe of Forcione's "Anna to Haden's Spanish-tinged "La Pasionaria, where Forcione's solo intro demonstrates a virtuosity that only highlights his considerable restraint throughout the rest of the disc.
Forcione's tranquil "Snow is an almost painfully beautiful ballad, with an evocative melody that leads perfectly into Haden's enduring "Silence, another song that's all the more powerful and expansive for its use of space and calm. The resonance of both Haden and Forcione's instruments, and the ability to hear literally every note decay into silence, is the result of Naim Audio's audiophile recording techniques, making Heartplay a particularly warm and enveloping listen.
Haden's penchant for the simple line and the elegant pulse is a perfect complement for Forcione, whose use of the subtlest of dynamics creates the most vivid of expressions. The material ranges from under three minutes to over eleven, with through compositions contrasting those used as vehicles for lengthier collective collaboration.
For those who haven't heard of Focione beforedespite his having ten other albums out on NaimHeartplay is a fine introduction. For Haden fans, it's another in a growing collection of duet albums with artists including Metheny, pianist John Taylor and pianist/guitarist Egberto Gismonti that makes a compelling argument for the less-is-more approach.
Visit Charlie Haden and Antonio Forcione on the web.