Charlie Haden: Quartet West

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Charlie Haden: Quartet West
WORKS: Now Is the Hour
PERFORMER: Charlie Haden (b); Ernie Watts (ts); Alan Broadbent (p); Larance Marable (d)
CATALOGUE NO: 529 827-2
Charlie Haden’s LA-based Quartet West has produced a thoroughly distinctive run of albums since its formation in 1986. Soaked in nostalgia for the Forties and Fifties (this one has cover pictures of peace celebrations at the end of the Second World War), they are intelligently programmed, finely produced and faultlessly performed. Seven of the album’s 12 tracks are graced with Broadbent’s unfussy but swooningly lovely string arrangements, which provide a lush background for Ernie Watts’s plangent, earnest tenor in a manner startlingly reminiscent of a previous masterpiece in this underworked genre, Art Pepper’s Winter Moon. The remainder are mainly bop-era classics or standards given the sophisticated Quartet West treatment. Unashamedly romantic, but surprisingly gutsy when necessary, this is the band’s finest recording to date. Chris Parker