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The Keith Jarrett / Charlie Haden Duo Revisited

The Keith Jarrett / Charlie Haden Duo Revisited

Courtesy ECM Records


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Music is an amazing thing. Here is some music for you. Take it, it's yours.
—Keith Jarrett
Pianist Keith Jarrett has enjoyed a long and productive career which eventually became dominated by his monumental improvised solo performances and his work with his Standards Trio, with bassist Gary Peacock and drummer Jack DeJohnette. Along the way, he released albums by his now sometimes overlooked but excellent American and European Quartets.

Revisiting almost everything in Jarrett's discography is rewarding, but his duo sessions with bassist Charlie Haden, recorded in 2007, especially so. These albums are Jasmine (ECM, 2010) and Last Dance (ECM, 2014). The music is mostly ballads, recorded, with no rehearsals, in Jarrett's home studio, with no great expectation of releasing the music to the public. Fortunately, the right decision was made on that account. This is Jarrett at his most relaxed, playing beautifully, backed by Haden's muscular, yet somehow gentle, bass.

ECM Records

ECM Records albums are famous for their sound quality. Jasmine and Last Dance may be the best examples of this. In his liner notes, Jarrett described the sound as "dry...direct and straightforward." Haden's bass is presented perfectly—big and full, with a viscous fluidity. His notes will send vibrations through the air in the lungs. Jarrett's piano touch is as warm, caring, kind and tender-hearted as can be, and he was never before so emotionally engaged as in these songs of yearning and of love lost and unrequited. Melancholy is the word which comes to mind, like Frank Sinatra's In the Wee Small Hours (Capitol Records,1955). And—like Sinatra's take on loneliness—Jasmine is breathtakingly beautiful. NASA should put it in a new Voyager spacecraft and send it and Last Dance out to the universe.

"I'm Gonna Laugh You Right Out Of My Life" is exquisitely downhearted; "Body And Soul" is spare and lovely, just a bit up-tempo compared to the others on the set, a no-frills take on the classic. Gordon Jenkins' "Goodbye" is so sad it will make the stomach hurt; Keith Jarrett has surely said goodbye to someone, and it was painful.

Last Dance
ECM Records

Jasmine and Last Dance were recorded in 2007, the former seeing release in 2010, the latter in 2014 and including a couple of what might be called "alternate takes" from the home session. Why the music was not released earlier, simultaneously or as a double CD is a mystery. Last Dance is as touching, magical, and supernaturally beautiful as Jasmine. And it is perhaps brighter.

The opener, "My Old Flame," paints a wistful mood; Thelonious Monk's "Round Midnight," with a well-shaped, upbeat, extended introduction which dances around the familiar melody, plays out as a sprightly contemplation; "I Might As Well Be Spring" has slow motion stateliness. Bud Powell's "Dance Of The Infidels"—the rare romp in the show—is, reverently laid out with that happy, infectious Bud Bounce.

The duo say goodbye with Cole Porter's "Every Time We Say Goodbye" tugging on the heartstrings, leading into an alternate take of Jasmine's "Goodbye." Break out the handkerchiefs.

"Music is an amazing thing," says Jarrett in his liner notes. "Here is some music for you. Take it, it's yours."



For All We Know; Where Can I Go Without You?; No Moon At All; One Day I'll Fly Away; I'm Gonna Laugh You Right Out Of My Life; Body And Soul; Goodbye; Don't Ever Leave Me.

Last Dance

My Old Flame; My Ship; Round Midnight; Dance Of The Infidels; It Might As Well Be Spring; Everything Happens To Me; Where Can I Go Without You; Every Time We Say Goodbye; Goodbye.

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