Jasmine and Last Dance were highly marketed releases from the late Charlie Haden (on bass) and Keith Jarrett (on piano). I really liked Jasmine, not only for the selection of songs, but also the intimate sound, as it was recorded in Jarrett's home studio. Last Dance, released right before Haden passed, was a continuation of the same session, with additional tracks.
To my ears, the Barron-Holland collaboration is similar, but so much stronger. The sound, believe it or not, is better, and the selection is not simply a set of standards:
- The Oracle (Holland original),
- The Only One (Barron)
- Rain (Barron)
- Segment (Parker)
- Waltz for KW (Holland)
- In Walked Bud (Monk)
- In Your Arms (Holland)
- Dr. Do Right (Holland)
- Seascape (Barron)
- Daydream (Strayhorn, Latocuhe, Ellington)
- Calypso (Barron)
Nothing wrong with standards, but there's a lot here by the two dudes themselves and I'd wager they're just as good.
Barron is a good pianist. First I've heard him (I'm no jazz expert), while Holland is a favorite of mine. He's playing is in some ways simpler and more straightforward than Jarrett's, but that slight edge on simplicity isn't a bad thing. Holland's bass thumps along in tracks like In Walked Bud, and you can just sit back and smile. It's a duet that just feels right and so good together.
That same sure-fit is expressed in the album's closing piece, Calypso. It's a happy piece that comes about after an opening that is played in unison. Sure, it needs drums to fully take us to the islands, but if you listen hard, you can add them in your mind yourself... it's the type of piece that invites you in, and if you forget your troubles for a few minutes, well, that wasn't so bad, was it?
Holland's contribution in Hands is one of my favorites of his; Prism was a harder one for me to enjoy. The simplicity conveyed in this album despite the complexity in playing together, is part of its genius. This is a gem, and the recorded sound is awesome.