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Music Review: Keith Jarrett / Charlie Haden – Jasmine

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Jasmine is a collection of standards recorded by the duet of Keith Jarrett (piano) and Charlie Haden (bass). It was one of the most sadly overlooked releases of 2010. The eight tracks collected on this disc are simply beautiful. It is about as romantic an album as one is likely to hear, done by two master musicians, interpreting some of the greatest songs written in the past century.

The lovely “For All We Know” begins the proceedings in a suitably understated way. This lovely tune was written in 1934 by J. Fred Coots, with lyrics by Samuel Lewis. Among others who have recorded versions are Dinah Washington and Nat “King” Cole. Jarrett’s piano leads us quietly into the melody, as Haden’s bass softly comments on the proceedings. From there, the two play off of each other fantastically well, as if they have been doing this all of their musical lives.

Indeed, it has been over thirty years since the two have recorded together. We have to go all the way back to 1976, and the live Eyes Of The Heart to find their last mutual appearance on record. That was in a full band context however, with Jarrett’s American Quartet. The Quartet also featured Paul Motian (drums) and Dewey Redman (saxophone).

In any event, Jasmine is such an intimate recording, it almost feels as if you are eavesdropping on personal conversation. The interplay is extraordinarily empathetic on tracks such as “Where Can I Go Without You,” and “Goodbye.”

“Where Can I Go Without You” was written by Peggy Lee and Victor Young, although it was never a big hit for Lee. “Goodbye,” by Gordon Jenkins is another story. Although he is something of a forgotten artist in this day and age, there was a time when Gordon Jenkins was recognized as the major talent he was. The song’s most famous interpretation was by Frank Sinatra on his Frank Sinatra Sings For Only The Lonely (1958). Jarrett and Haden’s adaptation is incredibly tasteful.

Another outstanding cut is the duo’s version of “Body And Soul.” It is likely the most famous song on the album, and has become something of a jazz standard. Again, Jarrett and Haden treat it with the utmost respect, and their version is as sweet as any I have heard.

Jasmine may not be the most challenging disc either Keith Jarrett or Charlie Haden have been involved in, but that hardly matters. It is one of the appealingly tender albums I have heard in a long time. Highly recommended, especially for those “in the mood.”

As much as I like Sinatra, even the lonely need a change once in a while. Jasmine is a perfect alternate choice.

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About Greg Barbrick