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Last Dance - Keith Jarrett and Charlie HadenLast Dance is an album comprised entirely of additional perfomances recorded in 2007 that had originally brought the duo of Keith Jarrett and Charlie Haden back together. Released after Haden's death in 2014, the ballad-filled album serves as a posthumous memorial to an iconic musician.

Keith Jarrett and Charlie Haden  - Last Dance

(ECM Records)

Keith Jarrett – piano
Charlie Haden – bass

The prophetically titled Last Dance is a bittersweet gift. Consisting of additional performances recorded during the 2007 sessions that reunited pianist Keith Jarrett and bassist Charlie Haden – sublime duets that resulted in the acclaimed album, Jasmine – Last Dance was released just a month before the iconic bassist’s death in July of 2014. The recording now acts as a de facto memorial to a brilliant musician who was still in top form at the time of the encounter. Painfully reminded of what we have recently lost, we’re also granted the opportunity to hear more gorgeously produced sounds from one of the most individual improvisers in jazz history.

Jarrett is no less inspiring. As on Jasmine, the pianist plays with selfless grace, engaging in an intimate musical conversation with a kindred spirit. Although they had once been close collaborators, Jarrett and Haden hadn’t recorded together since the mid-1970s. And interacting with another player apart from the bassist Gary Peacock and the drummer Jack DeJohnette, with whom he has exclusively played since the dawn of the ‘80s, seems to have had a liberating effect on Jarrett. He sounds particularly relaxed and thoughtful, his lyrical gifts taking pride of place over any undue virtuosic displays. In other words, he’s thoroughly in tune with Haden’s aesthetic: music making as pure emotive expression; a reflection of the openness of the heart rather than the speed of the fingers.

The reliance on ballads and mid-tempo pieces allows the pair to focus on the construction of robust melody and deeply felt improvisation. (As on “Jasmine,” there’s only one up-tempo performance on the album – here it’s a romp on Bud Powell’s “Dance Of the Infidels.”)  Sturdy standards including “Every Time We Say Goodbye,” “My Ship,” “Everything Happens To Me” and a reprise of  “Goodbye” (also heard on Jasmine are given fresh, vibrant interpretations. “’Round Midnight,” which finds the telepathically linked partners improvising at length before stating the immortal theme as a closing statement, is a fitting testimony to their exceptional artistry and rare kinship.

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