Review of the CD Box set The Montreal Tapes, by Charlie Haden.
Published on the website of L’Atelier Grigorian.
This set brings together the six separate discs released from Charlie Haden’s residency at the 1989 Montreal Jazz Festival. Haden was given free reign to book his choice of collaborators, and the resulting concert series was a compelling retrospective of Haden's musical history. Beautifully recorded to highlight Haden’s deep bass sound, these discs capture some assured playing by veteran musicians who share an interest in both mainstream and avant-garde jazz. Taken together they represent an important historical document, marking the shift from the heat and fire of Haden’s early playing with Ornette Coleman and Keith Jarrett to the more contemplative music he has made in the last two decades. Of particular interest is the concert with former Coleman band mates Don Cherry and Ed Blackwell, both of whom passed away not long after these recordings were released. Their relaxed and playful encounter in Montreal is a testament to the strength of the bond these musicians forged in the late 1950s when they were crafting the shape of jazz to come. This set also features a rare homecoming for Montreal native Paul Bley, whose performance with Haden and drummer Paul Motian demonstrates a depth of communication that eludes most super group-style encounters. As individual releases some of these discs have been difficult to come by at times, so this reissue is a welcome opportunity to hear Charlie Haden in the company of mature, yet adventurous musicians, whose playing reveals the continuing vitality of the free jazz movement Haden helped to initiate five decades ago.
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