Charlie Haden and Keith Jarrett have a history of collaboration between the two of them that goes back nearly 45 years. Following his stint as the bassist for Ornette Coleman’s classic Atlantic Records quartet, where he played an integral part of the shaping of free jazz with such masterpieces as 1959’s The Shape of Jazz to Come and 1960’s This Is Our Music, Haden resurfaced in 1967 in Jarrett’s first trio alongside drummer Paul Motian, bringing the atonal dissonance of Coleman’s Harmolodic style to the young piano genius’s Bill Evans-inspired lyricism. Haden continued to work with Jarrett during the 1970s as part of his daring American quartet alongside saxophonist Dewey Redman and Motian once again on drums, providing an ample amount of fire to some of the most challenging and experimental works of the Jarrett catalog, including 1971’s rock-influenced Expectations, 1973’s classic Village Vanguard live album Fort Yawuh and 1974’s dense, underrated second LP for the Impulse! label, Treasure Island.
Now, for the first time since 1976’s The Survivors’ Suite, Jarrett and Haden come together for their second ECM collaboration and debut foray as a duo, the gorgeous, eloquent Jasmine. Recorded in Jarrett’s tiny Cavelight Studio based out of his home in Oxford, New Jersey, the album came together in March of 2007 following the two men’s reunion for the stellar, recently released documentary on the career of Mr. Haden, entitled Rambling Boy. Jarrett had invited Charlie and his wife over to his home shortly after they taped their session “to do some playing for a few days with no assurance that we’d have anything (including sound) that we’d want to release,” as Jarrett explains in the liner notes.
And, in the dry quiet of Cavelight, the old friends deliver touching renditions of such standards as Redd Evans and David A. Mann’s “No Moon At All”, made famous by the likes of The Ames Brothers, Count Basie, Nelson Riddle and Julie London, Gordon Jenkins’ 1935 hit “Goodbye”, widely known as the theme song of the Benny Goodman Orchestra, 1930’s “Body and Soul” popularized by such greats as Frank Sinatra, Coleman Hawkins and Billie Holiday and they even take a stab at a contemporary tune in Randy Crawford’s 1980 single “One Day I’ll Fly Away,” written by Joe Sample and Will Jennings (who penned the lyrics for Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On”, but we can forgive him for that). All eight songs performed here play out like a late night conversation about long lost loves between lifelong pals specifically designed to inspire the listener, as Jarrett puts it, “to call your wife or husband or lover in late at night.”
Sonically, this LP serves as a centering sense of calm amidst the calamity and chaos of the world that surrounds us, almost therapeutic in its mission to ease one’s troubled heart and mind. As Jarrett’s first collaborative work with anyone other than his longtime standards trio of drummer Jack DeJohnette and bassist Gary Peacock and first proper studio album since 1998’s The Melody at Night, With You , Jasmine stands tall as the crown jewel of the piano great’s 2000s output by far. Now for a follow-up, how awesome would it be to see Jarrett and Haden get back together with Paul Motian and do at least one last run as the original Keith Jarrett Trio for old times sake.