'Jasmine' a fragrant collaboration
By Charles J. Gans
"Jasmine" is a noteworthy album of intimate love songs that reunites, after more than three decades, two of the most intuitive improvisers in jazz today: bassist Charlie Haden and pianist Keith Jarrett. Their history together goes back to Jarrett's first trio recordings in the late 1960s and his modern American quartet in the '70s.
Since then, their musical paths have diverged. Jarrett has limited his jazz explorations (with rare exceptions) to either solo piano or his Standards Trio with drummer Jack DeJohnette and bassist Gary Peacock. Haden has sought out musical partners from across the jazz spectrum, including notable duet recordings with guitarist Pat Metheny and pianists Hank Jones, Gonzalo Rubalcaba and Kenny Barron.
"Jasmine" came about serendipitously when Haden asked Jarrett to provide some reminiscences for a documentary about the bassist and they played a few tunes. Jarrett then invited Haden to his home in rural New Jersey for some spontaneous playing.
"Jasmine" bears similarities to Jarrett's last intimate home-studio recording, the solo piano "The Melody At Night With You" (1999). The pianist again keeps his virtuosic flights in check to fluidly improvise off the melody in slow or medium tempos on both familiar standards ("For All We Know," "Body and Soul") and more obscure tunes (Joe Sample's "One Day I'll Fly Away" and Peggy Lee's "Where Can I Go Without You?"). But this time Haden's warm-toned, meditative bass is present to fill in the spaces and engage in a relaxed dialogue with the pianist. Jarrett and Haden have no need for special effects, gimmicks or ego trips, but instead distill each tune to reflect its pure beauty relying on subtle nuances.
Jarrett's liner notes describes the jasmine as "a night-blooming flower with a beautiful fragrance" — an apt description for an album best savored in late-night romantic settings.
Check out: The 12-minute "I'm Gonna Laugh You Right Out of My Life."