Nocturne

COMPOSERS: Various
LABELS: Verve
PERFORMER: Charlie Haden (b), Gonzalo Rubalcaba (p), Joe Lovano, David Sanchez (ts), Pat Metheny (g), Federico Britos Ruiz (v), Ignacio Berroa (d)
CATALOGUE NO: 013 611-2

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Listening to Charlie Haden’s recorded output over the last ten years, it is easy to forget what a revolutionary he once was. The bassist has mellowed, and how. From being sideman to altoist Ornette Coleman in his ascendancy and later leading his own fire-breathing Liberation Music Orchestra in the Sixties, Haden has quietly developed a delicate small group jazz sound that draws heavily on the music’s earlier influences.

His series of exquisite recordings with the LA-based Quartet West used snatches of classic film dialogue, or ghostly out-takes of big band singers, and organised them to create straightahead jazz that’s lit like an Edward Hopper painting. Nocturne, although essentially a Latin set, retains the reflective quality of those QW albums but the choice of collaborators is surprising.

Rubalcaba and Lovano are both known as forceful improvisors but Haden has somehow transformed their power into gravity. Similarly, the usually incendiary tenor of David Sanchez becomes a slow burning pleasure. Haden’s playing, a brown study in the lower registers, is engrossing.

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Not only does this music affirm the Latin view that sadness is the most beautiful emotion but it does so without sentimentality. Garry Booth