Keith Jarrett/Charlie Haden, “Last Dance” (ECM Records)
(published before Haden’s death)
So maybe this project should officially be known as the Standards Duo. Four years after old friends and onetime musical collaborators Keith Jarrett and Charlie Haden released their first batch of vintage material recorded at the pianist’s studio, they return with another set of intimate pieces culled from the same 2007 sessions.
Two of the tunes from 2010’s Jasmine are back in alternate versions: The pair move as one on the stately “Where Can I Go Without You?” and the similarly tinted “Goodbye.” (Yes, Jarrett’s humming again is heard in the background, but it doesn’t spoil the pleasure of his typically searching solos.) As on Jasmine, the feel here is largely relaxed in the extreme, beginning with the elegant “My Old Flame,” which runs more than 10 minutes, opening up for some of Jarrett’s most expansive soloing and a long melodic turn from Haden.
Jarrett delays sounding the familiar melody of Monk’s “’Round Midnight,” handily putting into practice his interpretation-equals-composition ethos, until after Haden’s solo, and makes a foray into midtempo swing on Bud Powell’s “Dance of the Infidels” (more tunes at this tempo would have brought some welcome contrast to the proceedings). And yet the two are experts at crafting ballads, bringing out all the inherently poignant colors and melancholy textures of “Everything Happens to Me” and Cole Porter’s “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye.” Both, like many of the other performances on the disc, are keepers, artfully illuminating well-trod standards.