Haden Plus

I’ve been cramming to make a deadline all week, much of it spent out of town reporting, but here’s a quick preview of bloggings to come:

First, those in the NYC area should make it to the Blue Note at least one night this coming week, as Charlie Haden plays duets with various pianists: Kenny Barron on Tuesday, Ethan Iverson (of The Bad Plus) on Wednesday, Paul Bley on Thursday, and Brad Mehldau from Friday through Sunday. Haden, of course, was the bassist in Ornette Coleman’s original quartet and has ever since been spinning that “harmolodic” magic whereby a musician plays around the chords and rhythms of a song yet somehow manages to convey its essence more intensely and lyrically than nearly anyone who hits them spot-on. Haden led a similar festival at the same club five years ago, in celebration of his 65th birthday, and every set—or each of the four I saw—was at least pleasurable, at best breathtaking. Some of his greatest albums in recent years have also been piano-bass duos: Night and the City with Barron, Steal Away with Hank Jones, The Montreal Tapes with Geri Allen (well, the last one also had Paul Motian on drums, but who’s counting…). Anyway, go!

Second, here are some new or forthcoming CDs that I’ve liked to hear spinning in the background or during quick meal breaks (I’ll write more when I have a chance to take a close listen):

The Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra’s long-awaited Sky Blue (lush, plush, dreamy, with edgy solos this time, and spectacular sonics by engineer Joe Ferla)…

Erik Friedlander’s solo-cello elegies, Block Ice and Propane (haunting Americana, a soundtrack of road shows and memory, like Copland with occasional shards of Crumb)…

A Columbia 6-CD box-set of Miles Davis’ Complete ‘On the Corner’ Sessions (wowie! zowie! who knew!)…

More soon…

butch bond's picture

Your definition of "harmolodic magic" as the thing that makes a jazz artist best able to express him/ herself "lyrically" and "intensely",to the exclusion of "nearly everybody who hits them spot on", is so shallow and wrong on so many levels that I despair ("830 characters left") being able to address it here. It does however paint a clear picture of your reviewing bias, and anyone who reads your record or show reviews should never forget it: I can't think of one jazz musician over the history of the music, from Louis Armstrong on up, who ever hit the changes or the rhythm "spot on". That was never the point. But you have always seemed to undervalue music you consider to be too swinging or straight- ahead. Love and celebrate the music you wish to love and celebrate, but the idea that only Coleman- era musicians, and musicians who reject the rhythmic feeling many listeners think is the thing that makes jazz special in the first place, are nearl

butch bond's picture

Last sentence of the previous comment was cut off:"Love and celebrate the music you wish to love and celebrate, but the idea that Coleman- era musicians, and the ideological rejection of the rhythmic feeling many listeners think is the thing that makes jazz special in the first place, are "nearly" the only ones who can express jazz's essence is a poor one."Thanks,

Fred Kaplan's picture

In my haste, I probably overstated (I meant more to marvel at how much Haden & Co accomplish through the indirect approach than to tout them above straight-ahead jazz musicians) but you go way too far in the other direction to say that either I or Coleman-acolytes engage in an "ideological rejection of the rhythmic feeling" in jazz. Rhythm is key to these guys - they just approach it differently. You raise many interesting issues, which I hope to address sometime. But Charlie Haden swings and he's melodic and he's very rhythmic. (If you check out my other entries, you'll see that my tastes are fairly broad.)