In 2011, bassist Charlie Haden and pianist Carla Bley led an iteration of the Liberation Music Orchestra in a live concert at the Jazz Middelheim Festival in Antwerp, Belgium. It was partially intended as a warm-up for a forthcoming Liberation Music Orchestra album, a process that had been in the works since 2007. Sadly, Haden died from post-polio syndrome in 2014 before any new LMO tracks could be recorded. Thankfully, Haden, along with his wife, Ruth Cameron Haden, and Bley had discussed his desires for how to finish the album prior to his passing. Furthermore, the 2011 performance, which included two new arrangements earmarked for the planned album, had been recorded for Belgian public radio. All this meant that an album was possible, and in 2015 Bley convened the LMO in a studio to record the new material. Per Haden's request, longtime friend and esteemed bassist Steve Swallow was brought in to play his parts.
A fascinating set from three strong and contrasting musical personalities: Norwegian saxophonist, Brazilian guitarist-pianist, and US bassist making purposeful and creative music together on this previously unreleased live recording. “Carta de Amor” documents music captured at Munich’s Amerika Haus in April, 1981. Two years on from the much-loved albums “Magico” (ECM 1151) and “Folk Songs” (ECM 1170), the trio’s improvisational empathy and sensibilities were further honed by experiences as a touring group. Repertoire includes five pieces from Gismonti’s pen, with the title track heard in two variations, opening and closing this enthralling double album.
The second posthumously released duo album featuring Charlie Haden. The first last year was with Jim Hall recorded in Montreal in 1990. This latest one, poetically titled as Tokyo Adagio, is more recent, Haden duetting with the Cuban pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba and draws from a March 2005 Blue Note Tokyo club four-night residency. The polite audience reaction and applause is respectful and the sound of a few knives and forks neither here nor there in the background not distracting: the album feels lived in, which is far better than clinical.
There are a whole lotta musicians who would kill for a resumé like that of peripatetic drummer Ginger Baker: member of Cream and Blind Faith, bandmate of Fela Kuti, survivor of a drum showdown with Elvin Jones, olive farmer, polo player, born-again jazzer (his '95 trio recording, Going Back Home, certified his abilities).
Deep in the Blues is a fascinating jam session between James Cotton, guitarist Joe Louis Walker, and jazz bassist Charlie Haden. The trio runs through a number of classic blues songs written by Muddy Waters, Percy Mayfield, and Sonny Boy Williamson and a few originals by Walker and Cotton. The sound is intimate and raw, which is a welcome change from Cotton's usual overproduced records.