Monday, January 11, 2010

Charlie HADEN - The Montreal Tapes, Live (with Don Cherry and Ed Blackwell) 1994

Charlie HADEN - The Montreal Tapes, Live (with Don Cherry and Ed Blackwell) 1994
Recorded live on July 2, 1989 at the
International Jazz Festival- Montréal


July, 1989. When Charlie Haden tells the audience at Montreal's tenth Festival: "I'm in heaven...every night...," you can't help remembering that the trio on that particular day was also a fragment of a dream, actually three-quarters of the Old And New Dreams group of ex-Ornettists (without Dewey Redman's tenor), or, rather, three-quarters of the alto saxophonist's original quartet (without Coleman)... In any case, this concert's repertoire is a clear indication that the three musicians had in essence come together again on common ground, a terrain whose contours seem to have become more defined over the decades: the compositions of their former leader.
It's a no-brainer that a festival week honoring the music of Charlie Haden will include some kind of Ornette Coleman variation, but this trio lineup -- call it either the original Coleman quartet sans Ornette or three-quarters of Old and New Dreams -- still springs some surprises. Apart from Don Cherry's "Art Deco" and "Mopti," it's all Coleman material, but drawn from the very early (circa the Something Else! LP) and very late stages (Broken Shadows/Science Fiction LPs) of his acoustic phase rather than the famed Atlantic period. Musical bonuses quickly become apparent on the opening "The Sphinx" -- Cherry is playing a lot more pocket trumpet than usual for this late-career stage, just as Haden does a lot more turbocharged walking than his latter-day norm. The same holds on Ed Blackwell's spotlight "Happy House," the bass going double time and Cherry romping with high spirits, before the drummer delivers a model solo of polyrhythmic simplicity. "Lonely Woman" is the lone "classic" here, with applause greeting Haden's beautiful opening chord strums, Blackwell's cymbals, and Cherry's mournful muted pocket trumpet. Haden goes deep melancholy with his masterful solo, touching on his Ozark upbringing by quoting a country or folk melody. (It's probably from the public domain, but what is that tune? "John Henry?" The source for "Tom Dooley"?) For good measure, he then tosses in a taste of the riff from his "Ramblin'" solo that became the anchor of "Sex & Drugs & Rock 'n' Roll." Cherry's silliness with instrument sounds wastes a strong Haden-Blackwell effort on "Mopti," but "The Blessing" bounces back with a bopping, bluesy midtempo groove that also serves as the blueprint for the last two pieces. Muted flurries by Cherry or minimal cymbal clicks from Blackwell that generate so much rhythmic propulsion, Haden's old-school, physical walking lines -- it's the small details and quiet touches applied to the unique flavor of Coleman's concept that gives these pieces and this volume of The Montreal Tapes as a whole its value.
Charlie Haden– Bass
Don Cherry– Pocket trumpet
Ed Blackwell– Drums
01. The Sphinx
02. Art Deco
03. Happy House
04. Lonely Woman
05. Mopti
06. The Blessing
07. When Will the Blues Leave?
08. Law Years

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