Charlie Haden & Hank Jones: Wade in the Water
Wade in the Water
Steal Away: Spirituals, Hymns and Folk Songs (Verve 314 527 249-2)
Recorded: Montreal, June 29-30, 1994
Rating: 85/100 (learn more)
Hank Jones's father was a minister who was suspicious of jazz as the Devil's music. Clearly his sons Elvin, Thad and Hank had different views. Even so, pianist Jones has tried to bridge the gulf between jazz and religious music on more than one occasion. (Check out, for example, his solo recording Tiptoe Tapdance from the late 1970s.) Here he joins with bassist Charlie Haden on "Wade in the Water," an old spiritual associated with the Fisk Jubilee Singers and the Golden Gate Quartet, among others. Jones surprises us on this track, adopting a much heavier touch than usual, and playing more forcefully on the beat. Haden goes along for the ride . . . but with the piano playing in such a traditional manner, a bassline is hardly necessary. Don't look for any rootless chords or hip bebop licks -- they have been locked away for the day. There is more spiritual than jazz here, and this track is more likely to inspire you to jump up and testify, rather than order another drink from the bar. Hipsters can lament, but Minister Jones would be quite pleased.
Reviewer: Ted Gioia