This is the second posthumously released duo album featuring Charlie Haden. The first last year was with Jim Hall recorded in Montreal in 1990.
This latest one, poetically titled as Tokyo Adagio, is more recent, Haden duetting with the Cuban pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba and draws from a March 2005 Blue Note Tokyo club four-night residency. The polite audience reaction and applause is respectful and the sound of a few knives and forks neither here nor there in the background not distracting: the album feels lived in, which is far better than clinical.
Haden and Rubalcaba had often recorded together, on albums such as Nocturne (released in 2001) and the Grammy-winning Land of the Sun released in 2004, and here delve deep on six selections: the yearning deeply romantic Rojas Martin composition ‘En La Orilla Del Mundo’ (‘The Edge of the World’) that featured on Nocturne; the long 11-minute-plus version of Hollywood movie tune ‘My Love And I’ that Quartet West fans will instinctively gravitate towards; Ornette Coleman tune ‘When Will the Blues Leave’ which featured on the classic 1958 release Something Else; ‘Sandino’ named for the Nicaraguan revolutionary leader; the bolero ‘Solamente Una Vez’ (‘You Belong To My Heart)’ featured on Land of the Sun; and ‘Transparence’ again from Nocturne.
Rubalacaba tells Ned Sublette, author of Cuba and Its Music: From the First Drums to the Mambo, in a liner note interview how as a teenager in Havana he used to listen to Haden on the radio beaming out from within the sound of Keith Jarrett’s Survivors’ Suite, Rubalcaba later as a 23-year-old meeting Haden and recording together at EGREM. Haden encouraged the late Bruce Lundvall to sign the Cuban and Haden and Rubalcaba later made their first album together, Discovery, a live Montreux festival-recorded trio album the pair joined by Paul Motian. Rubalcaba comments: “Our connection was about love, for the music and for our families, and for each other.”
Haden’s widow Ruth Cameron-Haden, who co-produced the album, comments on her husband’s love of slow movements in classical pieces explaining the adagio moniker. She says that during the year of the recording Charlie despite battling aspiration pneumonia travelled to Japan for these dates “to explore the music in an intimate setting which was one of Charlie’s favourite musical endeavours.” And that intimacy is what is so special here as well as the romanticism and the feeling of being there, the hushed ambience and remarkably intense rapport the two possessed adding a certain drama and beauty. A must. SG
Released on 8 June