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May 12 , 2010

Great success for Keith Jarrett and Charlie Haden with “Jasmine”

Released in time for Keith Jarrett’s 65th birthday on May 8, his new album “Jasmine” with bassist Charlie Haden already ranks as number 19 in the French pop charts and meets with wide-spread critical acclaim. “This is Jarrett’s first studio recording in 12 years and, therefore, quite an event”, comments Dave Gelly in The Observer. “As a concept, these piano-and-bass explorations of eight classic American songs could not be simpler, but the poise and subtlety of both thought and execution make it a spell-binding experience. Jarrett has a remarkable talent for creating an aura of stillness around him, so that every note he plays stands out clear and bright and the slightest harmonic nuance carries meaning. Haden’s bass, with its intimate, woody tone, lays the perfect groundwork, as always.”

The Financial Times’ Mike Hobart is no less impressed: “It is more than 30 years since they last recorded together, but their dialogue has the detailed intimacy of old friends exploring common themes.” In the Independent on Sunday, Phil Johnson comes right to the point: “It’s an intimate, home-studio recording of love songs – deep, almost painfully heartfelt – and so good it will be sure to top most best-of-lists … If you buy only one album this year...”

In a detailed account for the New Yorker, Steve Futterman is particularly pleased by Charlie Haden’s “meditative” playing and its effect on this musical partner: “He carefully leaves space between the notes, isolating them and emphasizing the rich tone on his instrument. A strong case can be made for the notion that Jarrett is best when he is ruminating on ballads or working at slow or medium tempos…This intimate project affords him plenty of chances to relax…Throughout, the duo operates in a comfort zone that values felicitous melody and openhearted sentiment over displays of bravado. ‘Jasmine’ is as unashamedly expressive a recording as either man has ever made.”

More praise comes from Germany: While Georg Spindler, writing in the Mannheimer Morgen is hailing a “music which is human in its deepest meaning”, Ulrich Steinmetzger (Nürnberger Nachrichten) speaks of an “unexcited masterwork”. Germany’s most widely-read daily, the Süddeutsche Zeitung, dedicated a full page 3 to Keith Jarrett on May 8. Alex Rühle’s piece intersperses a vivid account of his encounter with the artist at his home in rural New Jersey with observations on various aspects of his unique career. “’Jasmine’ sounds like a tender letter of farewell….it is still, beautiful and so modest that the soli never sound like soli but as if they were essential parts of the songs. As if, after all these decades, the melodies just walk on to have a look at what lies behind the last chord.”