Charlie Haden: American Dreams
Charlie Haden (bass)
American Dreams (Verve 440 064 096-2)
Composed by Charlie Haden.
Recorded: Los Angeles, May 14-17, 2002
Rating: 95/100 (learn more)
After the sturm und drang of 80 chaotic years of Depressions, demonstrations, recessions, riots, wars, and more, it is of momentary grace to come upon Charlie Haden's "American Dreams."
On the Liberation Music Orchestra albums, his political activism remains a resolute force. Here, though, the statement is simply peaceful, as the piano trio performance by Haden, Brad Mehldau, and Brian Blade is embraced by a 34-piece string orchestra.
Low strings announce the heartbeat thuds of Haden's stately lift-and-settle-back melody. Then, the strings fall away and, in a light 4/4, Mehldau plays lovely variants of the theme-Charlie staying quiet and Blade flicking and switching around Brad's resonating notes until the bass and strings resume their calm, earth-coming-to-rest pulse. Both rise in a slow crescendo, followed by a swift, dying fall and Haden's deep time going silent.
Haden's song-without-words conjures up images of the shifting clouds and colors of a sunset under Western skies, and also of a nation at once more worthy of the dreams of its people.
Reviewer: Ed Leimbacher