Friday, January 9, 2009

Rambling Boy Rambles

Let’s start with this. I love Charlie Haden. First off he has a discography that is simply amazing both in terms of its breadth and in terms of the number of different musicians and bands with whom he has collaborated. Now if you are not a jazz fan (primarily) you may not know Charlie Haden—although his collaborations with Pat Metheny has brought him more mainstream attention I suspect. But you don’t have to be a jazz fan to like this album. In fact, I suspect some Charlie Haden jazz fans won’t totally dig this album.

See Charlie Haden started out as a member of his family’s country and bluegrass band singing on radio shows in the 1940s and 50s (beginning when he was two years old) and this album is his return to that genre. This time, however, it is with his own children and family (and the help of an impressive line-up of friends).

Now these me and “all-my-famous-friends” discs can often be less than notable and rarely hold together as albums, but in this case it does. The songs and the music are well arranged both musically and sequentially (with exceptions noted below). The stars fit into the overall theme rather than standing out like odd additions or a random collection of famous folks. For example, I love Elvis Costello, but lately it seems he has been showing up everywhere in not so subtle ways; but here he blends in just fine—as does Bruce Hornsby, Vince Gill, Rosanne Cash, Ricky Skaggs and even Jack Black.

Yes, that Jack Black. See he is married to one of the Haden triplets who are central to the album as this is, after all, a family affair. And let’s talk about the family. First off, the pieces where the triplets—Petra, Tanya and Rachel—are singing together or in duets are wonderful and run throughout the album. Josh, the son, also has a great solo piece on the album. But ultimately, I have to say the weak pieces are the solo efforts by the daughters—and as the album is very long (18 songs) it could benefit from some editing.

Now, who am I to say that Charlie Haden, who has played with Ornette Coleman, Keith Jarrett, Kenny Barron, Pat Metheny, Ricki Lee Jones and on and on, doesn’t have the right to let his daughters (who have their own musical credentials) sing solos? “No one” is the answer. And actually, I am getting attached to the whole disc as it is as a family effort (with great musicians supporting them), but my first reaction was to edit this down by three or four tunes.

Ultimately this is a fun album from a great artist and his family and it is worth more than a listen.
Here is a sample of the trio (a song my wife seems to take great pleasure in), a guest, the son, the son-in-law and Haden himself.

Single Girl, Married Girl
20/20 Vision
Old Joe Clark
Oh Shenendoah

1 comment:

The Jazz Cat said...

Charlie Haden is a CLASS ACT! He is a modern Legend! Peace to Charlie!
Can you dig it?