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Charlie Haden and Gonzalo Rubalcaba, “Tokyo Adagio.” (Impulse). Sublime – as much, in its way, as Haden’s duets with Keith Jarrett. Once upon a time before Cuba became a destination for any American with a passport who wanted to go there, frequent travel there seemed to be mostly for Canadians and American musicians. It was then in 1986 that Charlie Haden played a Cuban concert on the same day as the band of Cuban pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba. Haden’s story was that he was in his dressing room when Rubalcaba began to play onstage. Haden overheard Rubalcaba solo and said “who is THAT?” Rubalcaba had just come back from playing in the Soviet Union. He didn’t even speak English yet. Through a translator Haden told him “we have to play together.” And they did the next day. When Haden got back to the U.S., according to Rubalcaba’s notes here, he said to Bruce Lundvall, then at Blue Note, “you gotta sign this kid. He lives in Cuba.” And so Lundvall did. This gorgeous ballad recital was recorded live in Tokyo in 2008. Writes Haden’s widow, Ruth Cameron-Haden “Charlie often said to me and others, that he was an ‘adagio’ guy.” Listen to these adagios here – in particular a masterful version of David Raksin’s almost hidden masterwork “My Love and I” – and you know this is a jazz duet for the ages. Before his death was hastened by post-polio syndrome, Haden made it known that he wanted these tapes released. He couldn’t have been more right. They’re marvelous. ◊◊◊◊ (Jeff Simon)