Charlie Haden and Jim Hall ‘Charlie Haden and Jim Hall’ (Impulse/Universal) 4/5

cover Haden_Hall_03.inddRecorded live at the Montreal Jazz Festival back in 1990, but issued for the very first time almost twenty-five years later, this duet pairing affords us the opportunity to marvel at the mastery on the bass displayed by the recently departed Charlie Haden and Jim Hall integrates perfectly into the mix. The combination of the two musicians may seem somewhat odd given their diametrically opposed debuts in jazz, Haden engaging in the avant-garde albums of Ornette Coleman, while Jim Hall was part of the great chamber jazz trio with Jimmy Giuffre. In actual fact, Jim Hall’s tenure with Giuffre yielded some experimental musical results and the guitarist also recorded with avant-gardist Sonny Rollins while Haden over time became increasingly more mainstream in his Quartet West project albums. Neither musician has wished to be pigeonholed into stereotypes about how what jazz should or should not be and this is a constant in both musicians work as a whole. It has to be said that the pared down milieu works a treat on a number such as Monk’s ‘Bemsha Swing’ which is reduced to its absolute core and here Hall improvises to useful effect while Haden lays down some steady basslines. Equally of interest here is how Hall, when comping, creates a keyboard-like effect. Caribbean flavours emerge on ‘Down from Antigua’ while in general both folk and blues influences are pervasive throughout and are an endearing feature of the recording. Both musicians have close roots with the greater American expanse, with Haden born in Iowa and Hall in the more urban surrounding of Ohio, and on listening to this live album one can actually hear how Pat Metheny as a young guitarist may have been influenced by Hall’s individual approach and this is indeed still discernible on Metheny’s more intimate recordings of recent years.

Tim Stenhouse