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Charlie Haden/Chris Anderson: None But the Lonely Heart

Some of the finest moments in Charlie Haden’s distinguished career have come in duo recordings-and as they have lately come to dominate his recorded work, they raise some interesting questions. Foremost among these is, where is the Charlie Haden whose sense of the elasticity of time and harmonic frameworks elevated him to the top of his craft? He peeks out on this recording only briefly, on the several choruses that introduce “CC Blues.” It’s not that there is anything unmusical about his playing on this and other recent duo recordings: there isn’t. Time, taste and intonation are all in place. But his claim even to a share of the top billing seems tenuous: Haden is clearly in a supporting role. The story here (as it has been with Hank Jones and Kenny Barron) is the pianist. Chris Anderson has an idiosyncratic, orchestral approach to the piano, a sort of homegrown sound that is truly intriguing. He lays out his arrangements in chunks that belie their grace, much as Monk or the tap-dancer Chuck Green seemed to hold contradictory possibilities together. Still, one can’t help wondering what more might have come together with just a bit of provocation from the bass player.

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