You can't knock the sheer class of this major-label grand production matching bassist Haden's film noir-inspired quartet – one of the best groups of the past 20 years – with guest singers Cassandra Wilson, Diana Krall, Melody Gardot, Norah Jones, Renée Fleming and Ruth Cameron (Haden's wife, who co-produces). The repertoire leaves room for instrumental chops from saxophonist Ernie Watts, while Haden's big bass fiddle thumps out the time with authority. The rest of the group's catalogue should be explored, too.
Creative expression is a passion inside the human being and is not limited by geographical location. Throughout my career, I have played music with dedicated musicians from many different countries... this has contributed to my growth as a human being. This album is called "Quartet West" because it was recorded in Los Angeles with musicians from diverse backgrounds who now reside in Los Angeles. Billy Higgins and I have been playing music together in many different contexts since we were teenagers. Since moving from New York to the West Coast in 1979, I have had the good fortune to meet and play music with Ernie Watts and Alan Broadbent. I want to thank these three special musicians for the depth and spontaneity that they bring to this music and all those that helped make this album possible.(Charlie Haden)
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.