FAREED HAGUE -- Deja Vu (Blue Note)

Fareed Hague was a mere 7 years old when Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young released their classic Deja Vu album. When the Chicago-born guitarist was given the opportunity to record a jazz interpretation of the album, he jumped at the chance. He was already familiar with most of the songs, but he knew they from the 1974 greatest hits album, So Far--not the Deja Vu album itself. This gave him an interesting perspective on the material. Rather than looking at the project as simply an exercise in baby-boomer nostalgia; he could interpret the songs for what they were, and then expand upon them. Hague's inspired take on the album is one of three CDs in a new 'covers' series released on the Blue Note label.

As the CD starts, you hear a solo, acoustic snippet of "Teach Your Children" (the song appears three times), before launching into the superb cover of "Carry On." From the first few seconds of the song, you know this CD is going to be something special. There's a lot of improvisation, but the song always remains recognizable. Graham Nash's tunes have always leaned toward sappiness (with a few exceptions), and "Teach Your Children" certainly falls within that realm. Then again, without lyrics to interfere with things, you don't have that problem. Tim Mulvenna's percussion on the track makes a world of difference, and adds a new sense of freshness to the song.

Hague used a Bic lighter to play 12-string slide on "Almost Cut My Hair," giving it a Delta blues feel. The strange thumping sound heard on the song comes from Mulvenna's manta ray skin drum. The first time you hear it, you'll swear there's something wrong with your speakers. For "Woodstock" and the title cut, Hague drastically reworked the songs. He picks the elements of the basic melody on "Woodstock," then stretches out on several tangents throughout the song. At first, "Deja Vu" (the song) resembles some of Pat Metheny's older acoustic material. By halfway through the song, the Latin percussion comes in, and suddenly it's like you're listening to Al DiMeola.

"4+20" is very cool, and one of the better cuts on the CD. On "Everybody I Love You," Hague plays with blinding speed. I had to check and make sure John McLaughlin wasn't doing a guest spot on the song. It's that fast. The percussion on the track is outstanding as well. The CD ends as it began, with a brief snippet of "Teach Your Children." As the first snippet begins, you hear a door open, Hague walks into the room, shuffles some sheet music around, and then starts playing. At the end of the second one, you hear him pick up the sheet music, walk out of the room & close the door--giving the listener the impression that the CD was recorded in a single session.

Combining intricate arrangements with an almost orchestral richness, Fareed Hague took a great album and made it even better. Whether you're a CSNY fan, or a fan of jazz guitar, this is a great CD.

© 1997 Steve Marshall