Album Review: Charlie Haden and Hank Jones' 'Come Sunday'
There’s something about bassist Charlie Haden’s woodsy tone that just sounds thick with history. Dark yet warm as the echoes that would fill the sort of rural chapel roughly sketched on the album’s cover, Haden’s latest outing reunites him with the late jazz piano legend Hank Jones in a collection of compact yet lushly rendered hymns and spirituals, many of which are linked with the civil rights movement.
Recorded shortly before Jones’ death in 2010 at 91 years old, “Come Sunday” is a sequel to the duo’s 1995 recording “Steal Away,” which also explored the vintage gospel and Americana close to both musicians’ hearts. Though in the past Haden has explored more avant-garde orbits with Ornette Coleman and his own Liberation Music Orchestra, both he and Jones treat these melodies with a deceptively spare reverence, allowing the songs room to breathe with their original sentiment while coloring them with a lovingly inventive elegance that takes the music somewhere new.
Following Jones’ sparkling lead through a swinging “Give Me That Old Time Religion,” Haden’s bass weaves with an improbable mix of gravity and grace, and Dvorak’s spiritual-tinged “Going Home” is a showcase for Jones’ piano to weave around Haden’s steady foundation, which remains as sure and rich as carved mahogany. A pair of Christmas carols in “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” and “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear” give the recording a seasonal warmth, but in tribute to both a lost master and a music that has long celebrated peace and hope, this record can lift spirits any time of year.
Charlie Haden and Hank Jones
Three and a half stars (out of four)