On Jasmine, pianist Jarrett and bassist Charlie Haden are reunited for an album of standards, played with deep feeling. The album features such classics as "Body and Soul", "For All We Know", "Where Can I Go Without You" and "Don't Ever Leave Me", as well as a rare Jarrett cover of a contemporary pop song--"One Day I'll Fly Away" (which Keith first heard Nicole Kidman sing in the film 'Moulin Rouge'). Certain to be a big hit with jazz fans, Jasmine's release coincides with Jarrett's 65th birthday.
Intimate, spontaneous and warm, the album was recorded at Jarrett's home and has affinities, in its unaffected directness, with Keith's The Melody At Night With You. As Keith Jarrett says in his liner notes: "This is spontaneous music made on the spot without any preparation...These are great love songs played by players who are trying, mostly, to keep the message intact."
Keith Jarrett and Charlie Haden go back a long way. Jarrett formed his first trio in 1966, while still a member of Charles Lloyd's group, and Haden was his first choice as bassist. In trio with Paul Motian they played together until 1971, when Dewey Redman was added on saxophones to complete the group now referred to as Jarrett's 'American quartet'. This ensemble recorded the classic albums The Survivors Suite and Eyes of the Heart. After the quartet finished in 1976, the musicians went on to many other remarkable projects, but they did not play together again until 2007, when Keith invited Charlie to stay at his house. They recorded for four days that March - playing mostly standards from the Great American Songbook.
Personnel: Keith Jarrett (piano), Charlie Haden (double-bass)
Jarrett and Haden were reunited in 2007 during recording of a documentary about the bassist. After they played together informally, Jarrett invited Haden home, where they spent four days recording in Jarrett's studio. Given their recent histories of recording standards–Jarrett with his Standards Trio, Haden with his Quartet West–they unsurprisingly opted for songs from the Great American Songbook.
Classics such as For All We Know and Goodbye are given straightforward readings without any overlong solos, conveying the essence of each song. Jarrett's piano explores the melodies but never strays too far away. Haden's full-bodied tone and immaculate sense of time underpin everything. These versions are easy on the ear, smooth enough to be played at dinner without being a distraction–Jarrett even keeps his trademark vocalizing relatively subdued. The music also amply repays close attention, revealing fresh facets every time.
A couple of the chosen songs will raise eyebrows. One Day I'll Fly Away, originally recorded by Randy Crawford, is given an effective reading which lingers on the distinctive melody without undue embellishment. In contrast, Body and Soul, much covered by generations of saxophonists, is rarely chosen by pianists. Jarrett delivers a prolonged exploration of it.
Throughout the album, their playing radiates the pair's spontaneous enjoyment of each other's company and of the songs. Although it may not be a word immediately associated with either of them, Jarrett and Haden sound as if they are having fun here. Both are now respected elder statesmen of jazz, long ago assured of their place in history and each with albums on those lists of "essentials". It may not be too long until Jasmine itself appears on such lists. --John Eyles
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(5 stars) So good it will be sure to top most best-of lists...If you buy only one album this year, etc. -- Independent On Sunday, (Phil Johnson), April 30, 2010
Among many pleasures are the commanding excursions into the emotional and harmonic labyrinths of 'Body and Soul' and 'Goodbye'.
-- Jazz Journal, (Michael Tucker), May 2010
The poise and subtlety of both thought and execution make it a spellbinding experience...Haden's bass lays the perfect groundwork. -- The Observer, (Dave Gelly), May 9, 2010