Friday, August 3, 2007

NEW YORK TIMES PREVIEW: Charlie Haden Invitation Series, August 7-12

Published: August 3, 2007


CHARLIE HADEN INVITATION SERIES: Just over a decade ago, the bassist Charlie Haden played a drummerless New York nightclub engagement with the pianist Kenny Barron. The results were recorded for a sparkling album, “Night and the City,” that came on the heels of an exquisite effort with a different pianist: “Steal Away,” featuring the venerable Hank Jones. And those two releases, both on Verve, are hardly exceptions in the discography of Mr. Haden, above, who has always found comfort and inspiration in the intimate art of duologue. So when he settles in for a series of piano-bass duets next week at the Blue Note, Mr. Haden will be acknowledging his own history, as well as building a new bridge or two. The run begins on Tuesday with Mr. Barron, who has lately been delving deeply into Brazilian music; expect at least one sumptuous bossa nova. On Wednesday the bench belongs to Ethan Iverson, who has more than once used the blog of his band the Bad Plus — — for ardent pro-Haden propaganda purposes. (He once appraised Mr. Haden’s all-duet album “The Golden Number,” released on A&M in 1976 and now out of print, as “one of the very greatest jazz records.”) Thursday’s pianist is the drier-than-vermouth legend Paul Bley, an associate of Mr. Haden’s for many years, as well as a direct influence on Mr. Iverson and many others. And finally, next weekend will involve three consecutive nights of the ever-lyrical Brad Mehldau, who shared billing with Mr. Haden and the alto saxophonist Lee Konitz on a scintillating pair of Blue Note albums recorded at the Jazz Bakery in 1996 (just a couple of months before Mr. Haden recorded “Night and the City” with Mr. Barron, in fact). Of course it’s tempting to toss around other names that could have made the lineup — Carla Bley and Gonzalo Rubalcaba have recently done fine work with Mr. Haden, and naturally there is Mr. Jones — but that would be downright churlish. What’s there will be plenty: more than enough elevated conversation for anyone to absorb fully, though a few hardy souls may try. (Tuesday through Aug. 12 at 8 and 10:30 p.m., Blue Note, 131 West Third Street, Greenwich Village, 212-475-8592,; cover, $30 to $45 at tables, $20 to $30 at the bar, with a $5 minimum.) NATE CHINEN

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