Last week we were saddened to learn of the loss of jazz musician Charlie Haden. Haden was a bassist with a profound melodic gift as well as a strong sense of how to ground even the most labyrinthine chord changes.
It is bittersweet at this time to consider his valedictory album for ECM, Last Dance, a duo outing with pianist Keith Jarrett, particularly tunes such as “Every Time We Say Goodbye” and “Goodbye,” which close out the album. The CD’s material is culled from the same sessions that yielded 2010’s Jasmine. Recorded at Jarrett’s home studio, it is an intimate and imaginative excursion through nine standards. One is impressed by the seamless interplay between these two seasoned musicians. It is almost as if they are able to finish each others’ sentences, musically speaking, without ever giving one the feeling that someone is being interrupted. Jarrett’s solo work is incandescent, but he also gives Haden plenty of room for solo turns of his own, on which the bassist brings that aforementioned gift for melody to bear most lyrically.
Haden collaborated memorably with many fine musicians, and will be sorely missed, leaving a gaping hole on the bottom end of jazz’s compass. Fortunately, recordings like Last Dance will allow us to continue to savor and evaluate his important legacy.