Nathan Haines – The Poet’s Embrace
(Warner Jazz HAVENCD004/2564854344. CD Review by Chris Parker)
‘[A] grown up sound, rich with caring and loving phrases’ is singer Marlena Shaw’s description of New Zealand saxophonist Nathan Haines’s tenor playing on this, his first live analogue jazz record.
Such a detail is relevant here, since the music’s overall atmosphere owes a great deal to Haines’s conscious decision (in sleevenote writer Patrick Forge’s words) ‘to figure a way to get close to the luxuriant sound of Columbia’s legendary 30th Street Studios where Miles’s Kind of Blueand Mingus’s Ah Um were recorded’.
London-based producer Mike Patto was specially imported to the Auckland studio where this album was made, and the result is a lush, occasionally downright sumptuously sensuous sound more frequently encountered on classic Blue Note vinyl than on contemporary CDs. Haines sticks to tenor throughout the session, which contains one ‘cover’ (the Roy Brooks-composed Yusef Lateef vehicle, ‘Eboness’), one composition (‘Offering’) by pianist Kevin Field, and five Haines originals.
These are a judicious mixture of Coltrane-ish meditations and elegant themes with memorably accessible melodies, impeccably performed by the warm-toned, poised Haines and a discreet but lively rhythm section, completed by bassist Thomas Botting and drummer Alain Koetsier.
Haines might have played in a number of more commercial veins in his 25-year career (drum and bass, house and jazz electronica have all featured in his CV), but here he is clearly on home territory and revelling in every gorgeous minute of it.