Charlie Haden is the bass player who stays down low, who plays only the notes that are necessary. He is quiet, in a sense, even as he has a resonant sound, a singing, distinctive tone that speaks of the wood of the instrument, the flesh of his fingers on the strings, the intelligence of man who is thinking his way though the songs he plays and the humanity of a man who can hear the lyrics in his heart with every measure. Keith Jarrett is the pianist who has both infuriated and thrilled us, but mostly he has astonished — he has remade our understanding of how the American songbook gets heard and re-played through a modern sensibility, and he has demolished the difference between “inside” and “outside” playing by simply playing (always, always) with his ear and his heart connected on a tight line of feeling.
These two have played together for more than 40 years, on and off, and their musical togetherness is justly celebrated. This album, like its predecessor, Jasmine, comes from four days of playing and recording at Jarrett's home in 2007. Jarrett's piano and Haden's bass take an affectionate, inquisitive tour through a set of jazz classics and old ballads, revealing fresh beauties at every turn.
This hushed duo set sounds like the epilogue to Jasmine, the collection of reflections on Broadway classics and ballads that Jarrett and double-bassist Haden made four years ago. Casually overheard, these exchanges can sound like superior lounge-jazz in their soft bass-walks, demurely stroked chords and piano improvisations; lean a little closer, however, and Jarrett's timing and sense of space, plus Haden's spontaneous countermelodies, continue to provide low-lit delights. Bud Powell's fast bopper Dance of the Infidels is a rare uptempo sprint, and Monk's Round Midnight represents this pair at their most impish, with Jarrett at his freely lyrical best.
In 2010, ECM released Jasmine, an informal archival recording of standards between old friends who hadn't worked together in over three decades. The recordings were made at Keith Jarrett's Cavelight home studio in 2007. The nine tunes on Last Dance are taken from those same sessions. There are two alternate takes of tracks from the earlier album.
More than three decades after the demise of pianist Keith Jarrett’s so-called American Quartet, he and bassist Charlie Haden were reunited in 2007 during the filming of a Haden documentary. That led to a few days of sessions in Jarrett’s home recording studio in New Jersey, which produced “Jasmine” (2010), a quietly devastating suite of ballads and love songs. “Last Dance” is drawn from the same sessions, and again is made up largely of standards, but its overall character is sunnier than the nocturnal melancholy of “Jasmine.
Willie Nelson the songwriter reappears on “Band of Brothers,” his first album since 1996 to feature a majority of his own new songs. It’s a serenely feisty autumnal statement from the singer, who forged his sage, grizzled persona decades ago. Mr. Nelson’s song “Funny How Time Slips Away” first appeared in 1961, and his relaxed, quavery, behind-the beat vocals and his acoustic lead guitar always made him a voice of maturity.