Listening Post: ‘Last Dance’ - The Buffalo News

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Listening Post: ‘Last Dance’


Keith Jarrett and Charlie Haden, “Last Dance” (ECM). No, you won’t find Percy Faith’s classic of teen bathos on this even though it shares a name with this disc. Something far more artful is going on here. Even so, more than one listening is absolutely required with this one – not that there’s anything complex or daunting about this piano/bass duet recording from 2007. Quite the opposite, in fact, is true. It’s so minimalist and simple and straightforward that you need to hear it a few times for its starkly elemental virtues to expand beyond the mere prettiness that seems, at first, to be the disc’s curse. When its sister record “Jasmine” came out in 2010, Jarrett wrote in the notes “Charlie and I are obsessed with beauty. An ecstatic moment in music is worth the lifetime of mastery that goes into it because it can be shared.” “Jasmine” seemed a search for that “ecstatic moment” whose listeners were never likely to find it. Even so, its value couldn’t have been more self-evident. Here were two musicians who hadn’t played together in 30 years, much less recorded together. And then, in 2007, Reto Carduff’s documentary film about Charlie Haden “Rambling Boy,” brought them together again and instilled a desire to record again. They reunited in the “small studio” in Jarrett’s basement, which meant that Jarrett played “an American Steinway that really isn’t in the best of shape” even though he has “a strange connection with” it. Jarrett admitted back then the “very dry sound” of this long duet session almost entirely made up of ballads. That’s still the case with these recorded at the same time. What’s a bit different this time is the two of them launching into classic uptempo bebop – Bud Powell’s tune “Dance of the Infidels” – and finding a fiery inventiveness way beyond mere garrulity. That’s true even when they play Monk’s “Round Midnight” here. Of the two recordings from the same homemade session in Jarrett’s home studio, this is much the better one, even though it ends with another version of Gordon Jenkins’ truly sublime tune “Goodbye.” What does it say when two old friends, who have been so fiercely ambitious together and apart, reunite after 30 musical years and play some of the most beautiful ballads they – or anyone else – know? This is private music, true, but far more communicative than what was on “Jasmine” or, for that matter, Jarrett’s minimalist solo disc “The Melody Alone At Night with You.” ΩΩΩ½ (Jeff Simon)

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