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Guest Review: Reuben Jackson on Keith Jarrett & Charlie Haden Summer Sounds: Kings Go Forth Gospel Sights & Sounds



The late avant garde saxophonist Albert Ayler once told a puzzled interviewer that his music was “about feelings, not about notes.” Ayler’s memorable quote also accurately describes the eight arresting selections found on JASMINE (ECM, $17.98) featuring pianist Keith Jarrett and bassist Charlie Haden.

For while the collection includes familiar evergreens such as “For All We Know” and the collection’s highlight – a reading of Cy Coleman’s “I’m Gonna Laugh You  Right Out Of My Life – Jarrett and Haden quietly recast and reinvent these standards. Their respective lyrical and melodic gifts consistently serve the music’s thematic and harmonic contours. The pianistic excess that has occasionally marred Jarrett recordings such as The Sun Bear Concerts was not invited to these sessions.

The end result is a recording that is quiet, unabashedly romantic but never syrupy. I highly recommend this bittersweet delight.

Reuben Jackson worked for 21 years as an archivist with the Smithsonian Institution’s Duke Ellington Collection, and has taught a poetry workshop at The Writer’s Center for 10 years. His commentaries are frequently heard on WAMU’s Metro Connection.    


The sounds of classic soul are back with Milwaukee’s powerhouse ten-piece band, Kings Go Forth. Their debut album THE OUTSIDERS ARE BACK (Luaka Bop, $15.98) combines the best of Chicago and Philly soul, harmony vocals, a knockout horn section, and some funky drums and percussion. Hear their concert, recorded by NPR at the U Street Music Hall (

The group also scored a coup by getting DC’s own Mingering Mike (who’s had a book and gallery shows devoted to his “faux” record jackets) to do the CD cover paintings (check out the gallery archive at ).


Gospel scholar Anthony Heilbut has assembled some amazing performances, including nine that were previously unissued, for HOW SWEET IT WAS: The Sights and Sounds of Gospel’s Golden Age (Arhoolie, DVD & CD, $29.98). The greats from this golden era (the 1940s through the 1960s) include Mahalia Jackson, Sister Rosetta Tharp, Marion Williams, Swan Silvertones, Soul Stirrers, Clara Ward, Dixie Hummingbirds, and the Blind Boys of Alabama. The DVD contains 26 performances, and the CD also contains the tracks. The 32-page booklet includes notes and a gospel music overview written by noted scholar Anthony Heilbut. Listen to the NPR feature on How Sweet It Was here ( ).