What promise the night held. Charlie Haden was having one of his "& Friends" nights at the Comeback Inn on Friday evening. Scheduled to join the bassist were flutist James Newton and pianist Alice Coltrane. Surely, the evening would offer something more than another reading of "Autumn Leaves," another variation on "Satin Doll."
The Comeback Inn is a neat little place in Venice that portends to nourish the body and soul. They serve only vegetarian meals and smoking is not allowed. They do, however, serve beer and wine, which, to the widow of John Coltrane, is a spiritual no-no.
She came (late), she saw (tsk, tsk), she left. Veni, vidi, split.
Too bad. A better, more attentive audience has yet to be found in 25 years of hanging out in jazz clubs. If Coltrane had anything musical to say, she missed a great opportunity by choosing to speak as a moralist rather than an artist.
Be all that as it may, Haden and Newton had plenty to say and did so in an absolutely splendid rendering of four tunes. The emptiness one might expect from flute and bass duets was never noticed. Haden walked and soloed with grace and style as Newton floated his profound musical ideas over a delightfully rhythmic backdrop.