Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Staff Picks: Keith Jarrett and Charlie Haden - Jasmine

All week, we'll be posting reviews of 10 new CDs just added to the AccuJazz Staff Picks channel. You can keep tabs on all the reviews as they come out here.

3) Keith Jarrett and Charlie Haden - Jasmine (ECM)

The first chord of "For All We Know," the lead-off track from Keith Jarrett and Charlie Haden's sublime new album, Jasmine, sets the tone for the rest of the disc. It's a major triad, the simplest of chords, held out for an entire measure. It's Jarrett's way of establishing that he and his partner have nothing to prove. Throughout Jasmine's 8 tracks, the name of the game is spare beauty.

It's almost shocking how simple the playing is at times. For a good portion of the album, Haden sticks solely to playing the roots of the chords, forgoing any inkling to fill up the empty spaces with passing tones or clever lines. Many of his bass solos consist of little more than rhythmically running up and down major scales, but his playing is so honest and in-the-moment that it somehow sounds revolutionary.

For Jarrett's part, he delves deep into his romantic side on Jasmine, going so far as to dub it music for lovers in the liner notes. Needless to say, this is no Barry White album -- the music is romantic and lush in the best sense of the words. Jarrett's playing is passionate, but lower-key than his playing with his longstanding "Standards Trio". He, like Haden, keeps it simple and lyrical for the most part, except for on the uber-standard, "Body and Soul." On this most-played of all songbook tunes, Jarrett must feel a little more like he has something to prove, deconstructing and obscuring the melody to a much greater level than on any other track on Jasmine. All 8 tracks, save Joe Sample's "One Day I'll Fly Away," are classic songbook ballads that have aged well through decades of interpretation.

Jasmine should satisfy jazz lovers of any bent. While I'm the first to admit that I can be biased towards the young and cutting-edge in jazz, there's no denying the power of two veterans earnestly playing some of their favorite old songs.

Listen to the Staff Picks channel here

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