Fred Haas

I Thought About You

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For his second album as a leader, performer/educator Fred Haas continues his practice of teaming with another performer to present a program of duets. On his first album, Interplay, Haas worked with consummate jazz guitarist, Gene Bertoncini; for this session his comrade is pianist Bob Hallahan. For over an hour they operate on, dissect, and put back together 11 tunes, mostly standards but with works by modern jazz writers like Steve Lacey and Tom Harrell represented. There are also two eminently playable and listenable originals by Haas. Like most tenor players, at some point Haas had to record "Body and Soul" to pay homage to Coleman Hawkins' 1939 emancipation of the instrument. It's well that he had Hallahan along as he got this ticket punched, because they conspire to add some new life to this oft ridden warhorse. The entire program is comprised entirely of medium to slow tempo ballads, which runs the risk of putting both the listener and performer to sleep. The duo avoids that trap, however, first by selecting interesting and challenging music, and second by creating some fascinating improvisational schemes which sustain attention. While the playing is languorous, it conveys a state of dreaminess, not listlessness. On "I Thought about You" Haas sums up the tenor ballad playing techniques and interpretative skills created by those great ones who have preceded him; he adds to such techniques as well. It's simply a lovely piece, lovingly played. Haas' "Autumn" captures the essence of the season it honors; joy because some of the beauty of summer is still with us, but sadness because it is fading fast with winter's arrival. The opening strains bear a striking familiarity to "Long Ago and Far Away." "Samantha's Blues" is the most uptempo tune on the entire set, featuring the pair's ease within this genre. Haas plays "Lover Man" the way Billie Holiday would have if she played sax. There's lots of regret and soul being dealt with as Haas and Hallahan spend a soulful eight minutes of introspective and collaborative examination of all the dimensions of this familiar standard. Haas and Hallahan have a winner with I Thought About You. This album is not background music; it is meant to be truly heard.

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