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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Jack Ashby




Crotchet
Midprice

Charlie Haden with Michael Brecker

American Dreams

Gitanes 064 096-2

 

 


  1. American Dreams
  2. Travels
  3. No Lonely Nights
  4. It Might be you
  5. Prism
  6. America the Beautiful
  7. Nightfall
  8. Ron’s Place
  9. Bittersweet
  10. Young and Foolish
  11. Bird Food
  12. Sotto Voce
  13. Love Like Ours

Charlie Haden –Bass

Michael Brecker – Tenor sax

Brad Mehldau – Piano

Brian Blade – Drums

And a 34 piece orchestra

An album organised by bass player Charlie Haden together with Michael Brecker on tenor, promises to be something special. Both musicians have been extremely influential throughout the last decade of jazz and this album does not disappoint. Charlie Haden in the sleeve note talks of his ability to dream and to use his imagination. This album is dedicated as a tribute to the America that ‘should be and could be great’. An America with all of its immense creative talent, but without the cruelty and greed from which it suffers. These are indeed high ideals. The contribution of Brad Mehldau on piano and Brian blade should not be overlooked and nor should the excellent string orchestra, who help considerably in creating the dream like quality of a number of the tracks.

Charlie Haden wrote the tune of the title track and it is a feature for his excellent bass playing, he produces an excellent tone from the instrument and also an interesting flow of improvisation. On all the remaining tracks

Michael Brecker is present and I have never heard him play better. There is a warmth of tone and depth of feeling here, that he has not exhibited to the same degree before, although one sensed it was always there. On ‘Travels’ he plays the theme exquisitely and although I am not a great fan of Metheny compositions, I have to confess that this one is exceptional and does not suffer from the lack of melody I have come across previously. Brecker is now the complete saxophone player in terms of tone, technique and inspired improvisation and his playing on this record puts him in a league beyond most of his contemporaries.

Two tunes in which Dave Grusin had a hand, ‘It Might Be You’ and ‘Love Like Ours’ are included, Dave can always be relied on to come up with interesting original compositions, ‘Prism’ a Keith Jarrett composition has an excellent solo from Brad Mehidau on piano, who is one of the outstanding contributors to this album. Charlie Haden states the melody on ‘America the Beautiful’ and demonstrates the art of the possible on his instrument. ‘Nightfall’ is another Haden composition and he takes the first solo followed by Mehidau and then some more sublime tenor from Brecker, who seems to hear every possible avenue of improvisation on any given sequence.

‘Young and Foolish’ has always proved to be an inspirational vehicle for improvisation. I first heard it featured by Tubby Hayes in the 1950’s and here it is in an album recorded this year and sounding just as fresh. I had not heard ‘Bird Food’ an Ornette Coleman composition before and it was nice to hear the quartet switch into bebop mode.

On my first hearing of the album, I wondered whether it would have benefited from a wider tempo range, but on second hearing and bearing in mind it is an album of dreams, I concluded that it is about as perfect an album as I have ever heard.

 

Don Mather




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