|Charlie Haden and John Scofield / Jan. 22, 2004 / New York (Blue Note)
Charlie Haden doubtless has a thing, and an aptitude, for duets. The master bassist's discography is littered with unique one-on-one outings, from 1996's "Beyond the Missouri Sky (Short Stories)" with Pat Metheny all the way back to a collection of duo pairings he recorded two decades earlier for the Horizon label.
So his recent string of duet shows with guitarists at the Blue Note -- two evenings with Bill Frisell followed by two with John Scofield and two with Jim Hall -- seemed natural. There may be no better way to hear Haden's woody, mellow tone and to experience the graceful, elegant conversations he's liable to share with simpatico musical partners.
Haden's performance during the Jan. 22 early set with Scofield, the latter taking a break from his recent jam/funk work, didn't disappoint. The two, handily complementing each other, offered a quiet, frills-free set of standards and originals. They opened with "How Deep Is the Ocean," and Sco dropped to a whisper during the bassist's folkish, sing-song improvisation on the chestnut. The guitarist turned in colorful octave runs on a slow Haden ballad, and the duo gleefully tore into the brisk bebop of Charlie Parker's "Confirmation."
Haden, long based in California, remarked on his excitement about being back "down in the [Greenwich] Village, where I used to hang out a lot." On a sub-freezing winter's night, his return had a pleasantly warming, therapeutic effect, sure to linger for listeners.