Quartet West


Sophisticated Ladies (Emarcy/2011)
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An album of pure class – Legendary bassist Charlie Haden and his “film-noir” inspired quartet are joined in this album of atmospheric standards by some of the finest singers performing today: Diana Krall, Melody Gardot, Norah Jones, Cassandra Wilson, Renee Fleming and Ruth Cameron. Produced by Charlie Haden and Ruth Cameron, Sophisticated Ladies brings the seductive romance and style of a classic era to contemporary ears and tastes. (Amazon.com)

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The Private Collection Vol. 1 & Vol. 2 (Naim/2007 & 2008)
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Originally released as two individual Naim titles, Charlie Haden’s Private Collection Vol 1 & 2 were limited to 2,200 copies each and sold through Naim’s UK Hi-Fi retailers. Re-released in celebration of Haden’s 70th birthday, the release also marks Naim repertoire spanning 20 years of Haden’s career, with material that has never been available for the mass market.


The Best of Quartet West (Verve Gitanes/2007)
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It would seem a strange thing compiling the work of Charlie Haden’s decade-long Quartet West Group onto a single disc. The reason isn’t that they recorded so much material, but more because the material was themed record by record. Yet that is exactly why a compilation like this does work, because this group played music utilizing different aspects of the same theme: to evoke the spirits, ghosts and sprites of a Los Angeles that has moved off the screen of real life into the stuff of myth. That Haden and his group, which included drummer Larance Marable (who replaced Billy Higgins after the group’s first, self-titled album in 1986), saxophonist Ernie Watts, and pianist Alan Broadbent could make it all sound so present and real, gives the impression that there was truth in the images. This is not only from a West Coast point of view (though there it is imbued more with the striking visual reveries to accompany the tunes) but also in the popular culture mythos in the collective American mind. The nostalgia inherent in the quartet’s projects of playing standards and film themes, as well as original material slanted in such a way, are offset by the genuine innovative heart of jazz when performed by masters such as these men are. Consider this an introduction more than a summing up: there is so much more to look forward to from this group. (AllMusic.com)


The Art of the Song (Verve Gitanes/1999)
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Now here’s a man who is in love with the past. Haden seems to be able to bring out the magic in the songs of the past, predominantly the film musics of the thirties to the fifties. Quartet West (Haden- bass / Alan Broadbent-piano/ Ernie Watts-tenor sax / Larance Marable-drums) have been around since about 1986, and have recorded a number of albums to date all of equal beauty and scope. This group pretty much allows Charlie Haden to work with standards and create a late night feel, if you like your jazz this way. On this release he works with Shirley Horn on four tracks, as well as Bill Henderson on four. The group sounds relaxed and laid back, with Ernie Watt’s extended sax solos sounding as sweet as ever, while Marable’s brush work on drums compliments the material covered. Haden of course is Mr Versatility, with material covered from Rachmaninov to Jerome Kern, Ravel, Jimmy van Heusen, to compositions by Haden himself and pianist Alan Broadbent. This is an intimate recording, with beautiful arrangements and delicate phrasings, and if you’re not a stranger to the works of this outfit, then you’ll like what you’ll hear on this recording. Haden employs a chamber orchestra to accompany him on most numbers, heightening the emotional content of the pieces. (Amazon.com)

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Now Is The Hour (Verve Gitanes/1995)
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Charlie Haden and his Quartet West continue to mine the “noir jazz” genre inspired by ’40s films. Seldom does modern music so perfectly evoke a time and place in history as this terrific band. Fans of classic, romantic jazz will find joy. (AllMusic.com)


Always Say Goodbye (Verve Gitanes/1993)
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Always Say Goodbye is part of the continuing Quartet West project by Haden, in which the venerable bassist attempts to evoke the spirit of Hollywood circa 1930-1940. To that end, the record opens and closes with snippets from the soundtrack to The Big Sleep, one of Haden’s favorite movies. After the introduction, the album seamlessly transitions to the title track, the leader’s own composition and one of the high points on the record. Alan Broadbent’s solo piano introduction perfectly sets the mood that is sustained throughout the entire album: one of acute nostalgia. Other devices used to inculcate this mood is the peculiar device of the dual performance, in which a recording of a song is played first by Haden’s quartet and is then followed by a sampled performance of the same song by a great jazz artist of the past. Nostalgia has never been this tangible — this solid and real. The quartet that Haden has assembled is top-notch. Highly recommended. (AllMusic.com)

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Haunted Heart (Verve Gitanes/1992)
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When it comes to Charlie Haden & Quartet West, this is the one album to get. It seemlessly integrates the achingly beautiful vocal cuts from Jo Stafford, Jeri Southern, & Billie Holiday with the Quartet’s own lyrical contributions. If you’re looking for a jazz recording that’s “smooth” without being boring, evocative, & melodically marvelous, get this one. And then track down vocal recordings by Jo Stafford, who sings “Haunted Heart” on this CD and was probably the greatest female American “pop” singer ever. (Amazon.com)

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In Angel City (Verve/1988)
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The second recording by Charlie Haden’s Quartet West is similar to the music that the group (bassist Haden, tenor saxophonist Ernie Watts, pianist Alan Broadbent, and drummer Larance Marable) would play for the next decade. Among the highlights of this well-rounded set is “First Song” (Haden’s most memorable composition) and a lengthy exploration of Ornette Coleman’s “Lonely Woman.” An excellent showcase for Haden in a straight-ahead setting and for Watts, whose passionate sound perfectly fits the band. Highly recommended. (AllMusic.com)


Quartet West (Verve/1987)
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Charlie Haden’s Quartet West launched the ensemble that would become his most popular grouping throughout the ’80s and ’90s. While the album may not be stretching many boundaries stylistically, this format does little to dilute Haden’s impressive performances, and his love for this material is made obvious with his intricate arrangements. Perhaps the true highlight of the album, though, is a version of Charlie Parker’s “Passport” that brings together the whole band in one exuberant expression of energy. (AllMusic.com)

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