Jun 16, 2014
The musical relationship between Keith Jarrett and Charlie Haden now spans almost five decades. Haden was part of the trio Jarrett put together with drummer Paul Motian in 1967 for his recording debut as a leader, Life Between the Exit Signs. Haden became a constant collaborator throughout the 70’s, anchoring the American Quartet (Jarrett, Haden, Motian and Dewey Redman), which released an astonishing 13 records of significantly exploratory jazz between 1971 and 1977 for the Impulse! label. These included some of my favorite recordings of the day, most notably their final release, Bop-Be.
The 2010 release of Jasmine on ECM, which was recorded in Jarrett’s home studio in 2007, reunited the pair, and the results were so sublime that it seemed inevitable that Manfred Eicher would get the pair to work together again soon. Last Dance is the result, and it stands as a testament to the collaborative might of two of our finest musicians.
Jarrett or Haden circa 1974 might have been shocked that their 40 years older selves were doing an album of standards, but they might have been pleased as well. Whether it is the extreme lyricism ofJarrett on “It Might as Well Be Spring” or the wonderfully ominous bass that Haden brings to “’Round Midnight”, Last Dance is full of the touches of these master interpreters. The upbeat “Dance of the Infidels” is a terrific example of the old friends not only doing a great reinterpretation of the Bud Powell standard, but of clearly having fun doing it. Listen for Haden’s tempo changing solo, that leads into another deft Jarrett run, then back to the neat riff of the melody.
Last Dance? Say it ain’t so.