The acclaimed bassist Charlie Haden may have made his mark as a key member of Ornette Coleman?s iconoclastic free-jazz ensembles, but Haden?s heart lies with the beauty of song. With his own Quartet West, Haden has released a series of thematic albums that call upon standards, bebop tunes, original material, film themes, and even interpolated classic recordings from other artists that form one of the more compelling and uniquely atmospheric oeuvres in contemporary jazz. If a ?best of? selection necessarily loses the thematic connections that distinguish the original albums, it does serve as a fine introduction to Haden?s uncommon musical universe, and the excellence of his band. In the soulful saxophonist Ernie Watts, the lyrically minded pianist Alan Broadbent, and veteran drummer Larance Marable, Haden has like-minded cohorts who find their own individuality as interpreters and inventive improvisers within the leader?s inclusive vision. Stirring performances of the obscure film theme ?The Left Hand of God,? singer Shirley Horn?s guest spot on “Lonely Town,” or Haden?s own haunting ?Song for Ruth? satisfy yet also produce a hunger for the brilliant source albums of this one-of-a-kind aggregate. -
About the Author
Steve Futterman writes the "Jazz and Standards" listings for The New Yorker.