Magico: Carta de Amor

Of the hundreds of CDs I’ve acquired over the past couple of decades, none has been more frequently played than Charlie Haden and Pat Metheny’s Beyond the Missouri Sky (Short Stories). It ranks right up there with Kind of Blue, the Miles Davis classic, in its enduring power to reward countless listenings. Since his early years as a jazz innovator playing with Ornette Coleman and other pathfinders, Haden has taught me how to hear the bass, to take note of just how much the best bass players do to anchor the sound and guide the tonal elements of a composition. On this double album, recorded live in Munich three decades ago, but released now for the first time, Haden is the entire rhythm section since there’s no drummer. And, as is nearly always the case when Haden is present, the overall result is gorgeous. But I don’t want to give him all the credit. Jan Garbarek’s tenor and soprano sax inventions meld with the bass and with Egberto Gismonti’s piano and guitar to create a series of dreamscapes, all tinged with a Latin aura and a deep romanticism. The music is atmospheric, impressionistic, muted and rich. I’ve already replayed it several times, and I’ll be returning to it often for its abundant pleasures.