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Album review: Keith Jarrett & Charlie Haden's 'Jasmine'

May 26, 2010 |  6:00 am

Keth_jarrett_240_ Given Keith Jarrett's decades-long tradition of either performing solo or with his “Standards” trio of Gary Peacock and Jack DeJohnette, the simple fact that the mercurial pianist recorded with a new collaborator is newsworthy. Of course, when that collaborator is Charlie Haden, the news gets that much bigger.

Recorded shortly after Jarrett reconnected with the bassist for the 2007 documentary “Rambling Boy,” “Jasmine” is not the sort of album where two veteran improvisers stretch out into raw expression. Instead, Haden and Jarrett push inward, searching for undiluted beauty in standards and romantic ballads, many of which extend past the eight-minute mark.

In a typically thoughtful essay in the liner notes,

Jarrett hopes that the record can be heard on “a good system” (preferably with a loved one, he adds), but this isn't one of his patented knocks on modern technology. “Jasmine” is such an intimate, subtle record that much of what the two musicians are doing can easily pass without notice, like a whisper in a crowded room.

With the exception of a jauntily (but gently) swinging take on Redd Evans and David Mann's “No Moon at All,” “Jasmine” stays in a contemplative, nocturnal mood. Peggy Lee's “Where Can I Go Without You” features Haden on a lilting yet melancholy solo punctuated by Jarrett, and the classic “Body & Soul” gets taken for a ride by Jarrett's cascading piano, with Haden following stride for stride.

Though a somewhat repetitive listen if not in the right frame of mind, “Jasmine” is ultimately satisfying. Beauty, particularly in the hands of players like this, is always worth exploring.

— Chris Barton

Keith Jarrett / Charlie Haden
“Jasmine”
ECM
Three stars (Out of four)


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