Personnel: Charlie Haden (bass); Hank Jones (piano).
Recorded at Radio Canada, Montreal, Canada on June 29 & 30, 1994. Includes liner notes by Maurice Jackson, Charlie Haden and Abbey Lincoln.
STEAL AWAY was nominated for a 1996 Grammy Award for Best Jazz Instrumental Performance, Individual Or Group. "Go Down, Moses" was nominated for a Grammy for Best Jazz Instrumental Solo.
From the outset of his career with Ornette Coleman, through his work with pianist Keith Jarrett, his own Liberation Music Orchestra and collaborations with the likes of Paul Motian, Hampton Hawes, Chet Baker, Carlos Paredes and Ginger Baker, bassist Charlie Haden has always accorded the spiritual component of music greater importance than its technical considerations.
Haden's finest work has always focused on the most intimate, humanistic principles: freedom, justice, quality. In pianist Hank Jones, Haden encounters a collaborator and fellow traveller whose musical instincts are every inch as elegant and refined as his own. And in the rich public domain of materials which make up STEAL AWAY, Haden and Jones take on an oral (and moral) tradition of music that has been inspiring listeners since before the time of the underground railroad.
For the most part, Haden and Jones downplay their jazz stylings--"We Shall Overcome" being a joyous exception--in favor of simple expressive declamations, imparting a timeless feel to each performance. On the concluding "Hymn Medley," for instance, Jones' unadorned, celestial voicings and harp-like fills set the stage for Haden's earnest amens and resonant harmonies, to the theme of "Amazing Grace." Jones treats the opening "It's Me, O Lord (Standin' In The Need Of Prayer)" with modest delicacy, before lifting the tune into a selfless stride groove. Haden's devotional bass intro to "Nobody Knows The Trouble I've Seen" is pure prayer, Jones' rich chords representing a reassuring reply, while Haden's testimonial, "Spiritual," resonates with the devotion of countless rural congregations--black and white.
Q (8/95, p.122) - 4 Stars - Excellent - "...This poignant and affecting album is devoted to spirituals, hymns and folk songs, and Haden's booming sound and uncanny harmonic feel perfectly supports Jones's softly rolling chords, mixture of local-church artlessness and dignified funkiness..."
JazzTimes (7-8/95, p.115) - "...all the material possesses a stately quality....The elegance brought to the reading by Jones and Haden is only overshadowed by the lustrousness of the material..."
Village Voice (1/16/96) - Ranked #9 in the Village Voice's Best Jazz Discs of '95 - "...a critical and even miraculous work that says something new about the folk songs and spirituals at the foundation of African American music..."
Jazziz (9/95, p.20) - "...their treatment of the material is reverant, with very little filigree. But it achieves an elegant depth, never maudlin or morose. And in Haden's wide bass tones, and Jone's clustered voicings, even darkness takes on new hues..."