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Charlie Haden / Antonio Forcione: Heartplay

Charlie Haden / Antonio Forcione

The proceedings kick off with “Anna”, a delicate balladic tune, composed by Forcioni and delivered with delicacy by him on acoustic guitar and a virtuoso of Haden’s sensitive and never plodding support on bass. Listen to how Haden phrases, with an attention to the sound of the natural acoustic double bass that lets him make an accent here, a push there, a pedal note somewhere else. The same can be said of “If…”, lasting only three minutes in contrast with the four of “Anna”.

Haden’s “La Pasionara” lasts longer than both of these together, and picks up to medium pace as a Spanish dance with the guitarist swinging impeccably and doing a little self-support immediately prior to Haden’s more out-of-tempo solo. If anyone’s interested — and Haden surely is — the dedicatee was a heroine of the Spanish civil war.

The poignancy of that tribute is a general feature of the music on this quiet CD, continuing on Forcione’s “Snow”, which gives further evidence of the variety of resources the guitarist has picked up over the years hearing all manner of other music. His music is, for the most part, West-Mediterranean, a marriage of Italian and Spanish, but he phrases with a repertoire of means that here suggeste he’s heard a bluesman, here heard somebody else from beyond his musical home, without that disturbing his centre of musical gravity.

He begins Fred Hersch’s “Child’s Song” with some especially inventive modifications of timbre, and after Haden’s spirited solo the interaction is something special. I am not so sure that Forcione’s “Nocturne” is the ideal next track, or that the presence of yet more music of this character, though of the highest quality, is exactly an addition to the general attractiveness of this set. An earlier set by Haden with guitarist struck the English jazz critic Jack Massarik (speaking on BBC Radio 3) as an example of beautiful music, impeccably performed with an immense range of virtues. Yet he couldn’t put a name to the music, or link it to expectations (a context of genre) which allowed it to mean quite enough to him.

There’s something like that here — the music is engrossed, introverted, the themes mostly compositions by the performers, especially Forcione. Its appeal depends on how much of the same thing any listener or potential listener wants. The eleven-and-a-bit minutes of Haden’s “For Turiya” begins with all the virtues of Haden’s attention to sound, and so it continues. While — as Jack Massarik said of the earlier Haden duo — there is nothing wrong with this wonderful music, I suspect a lot of people very happy with this CD will not have been listening the whole time while it played. The opening will have delighted them, and then their attention will at some subsequent point have relegated the music to background level in consciousness — until one or another of the numerous singular excellences here arrested their attention once more. If that’s not you, and you’re not one of the other potential customers fascinated as a string player, I’d hesitate short of an outright recommendation.

RATING 7 / 10