Maureen Malloy Recommends...
Charlie Haden and Quartet West
Charlie Haden and Quartet West have been around for years, and could easily be compared to a chameleon. They have a unique, distinctive style, but blend in easily performing with orchestras and vocalists. They stand out at certain times, but then long stretches of time go by when no one can find them. Well, they're back, and better than ever on Sophisticated Ladies.
This album is a sequel to the 1999 release Art of the Song, where Haden featured the late Shirley Horn and Bill Henderson. This album hosts some of the best contemporary singers in the jazz world today. Cassandra Wilson is featured on "My Love and I," along with the string orchestra, arranged and conducted by Quartet West's Alan Broadbent. And, this is a debut; the lyrics (by Johnny Mercer) have never been performed until now.
Other vocalists include Diana Krall, Norah Jones, Melody Gardot, Ruth Cameron, and, surprisingly, a gravelly-voiced Renee Fleming singing "A Love Like This" with quartet and orchestra. Haden has chosen many rarely performed pieces of music for this album, which allows the group to maintain their "film noir" style while paying a visit to the Great American Songbook.