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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Piano & bass ... reunions

So far, we did not have too many "piano & bass" labels on this blog's catalogue, and now we double the amount, thanks to three new releases. 

Keith Jarrett & Charlie Haden - Jasmine (ECM, 2010)***

Possibly with the exception of Miles Davis and John Coltrane, there are few jazz musicians that I have listened to so extensively over the years as Keith Jarrett, ... and Charlie Haden, together or separately in various formations, as leaders and band members. I somehow lost my interest in Jarrett once he started becoming stuck in his standards trio. I remain a great fan of his American and European quartets of the eighties, and of (some of) his solo performances. Both Jarrett and Haden are romantics pur sang. And here they find each other back after 30 years of not having played together. No wonder it's all about emotions, yet luckily coupled with incredible instrumental skills. Here, they get a little bit stuck in sweet sentimentalism. It is the best album you can imagine to listen to at the fireplace on a lone winter evening, quite nice, but nothing more. Buy it as a present for your romantic niece, she'll love it.

Watch the promo clip for the album

Cecil Taylor & Dominic Duval - The Last Dance Vol. 1 & 2 (CJR, 2010) ****

Another reunion, but then after ten years, is this double album by Cecil Taylor and Dominic Duval. Taylor is his usual self, creating stories full of tension, plot changes, moments of intense action, then sudden melodic phrases, and back to pounding and surprise chords, yet it flows and evolves as if it was the easiest thing in the world, without hesitating, without halting, like a never ending cascade of ideas and thoughts that come up at the spur of the moment, get transformed and developed. And Duval in all this? He is unfortunately a little too silent in the final mix of the first CD, somewhat in the background, giving the impression that his input does not seem too vital for Taylor's stream of consciousness, Duval's support is rapid, functional and once in a while he manages to impact the pianist's playing too.That is especially the case in the slower middle part of the first CD.

The perfomance was recorded at the San Francisco Jazz Fest in 2003. Volume 1 brings over one hour of free-flowing music. Volume 2 is the rest of the program: 25 minutes in total, starting with Duval on arco, adding a more collaborative and balanced dimension, a situation which is maintained for the second piece, when Duval moves to pizzi again.

Watch "Bridge Works" from the concert.

Agusti Fernández & Barry Guy - Some Other Place (Maya, 2010) ****½

But music has moved on, beyond Jarrett, beyond Cecil Taylor, and this is possibly the most modern you can get: Fernández and Guy, two other masters of their instruments, both equally at home in jazz, classical music and new music. And they already demonstrate this from the very first piece "Annalisa", which evolves from a pastoral and impressionistic sphere to rhythmic jazzy unison lines and avant-garde sound explorations: it is creative and fun at the same time. Not everything is pleasant to the ears, though (like the short "Rosette"), but the power of the compositions/improvisations, the quality of the playing, both in the technical skills as in the emotional delivery is without a doubt among the best you can get at the moment. All the human emotions get a place on this album, from agony and distress to surprise to quiet contemplation to joy and fun, and frankly, also stuff you didn't know existed. And the cohesiveness, interplay and mutual power of bass and piano is absolutely fabulous. A great listening experience.

Watch a great visual evocation of the music by Fernández and Guy.

© stef


Richard said...

The Fernandez/Guy track sounds fantastic, as do the samples on Itunes. They also have a trio with Ramon Lopez on percussion, called Aurora.

I usually prefer the trio format, but in this case, they are both such strong players, the duo might be the way to go.

Anyone have any thoughts?

Anonymous said...

richard :foreveralone: