Charlie Haden Quartet Celebrates Anniversary with SOPHISTICATED LADIES, 3/22
Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, Charlie Haden's Quartet West has been championed as one of jazz's most compelling bands. Their new and seventh recording, Sophisticated Ladies, opens the latest chapter in Quartet West's historic career. With Sophisticated Ladies, bassist and bandleader Charlie Haden brings to light lesser-known tunes delivered with refined improvisations that are equal parts romantic, classy, elegant and alluring. The core group of Haden (bass), Alan Broadbent (piano/orchestral string arrangements), Ernie Watts (tenor saxophone), and Rodney Green (drums) have an impressive cast of new collaborators on this album: six of contemporary music's top-tier vocalists, including Cassandra Wilson, Diana Krall, Melody Gardot, Norah Jones, Renée Fleming and Ruth Cameron. Sophisticated Ladies will be released everywhere March 22nd on Emarcy/Decca.
"I was close friends with all the great singers, most of whom have passed on, including most recently Shirley Horn and Abbey Lincoln," says Haden, who co-produced the album with Ruth Cameron, his wife. "Ruth suggested that it would be fun to do a Quartet West project with modern-day singers whom we know and admire. So I started calling them up and asking them if they'd like to sing on this project."
All the singers signed on immediately. Diana Krall, for example, told Haden that it had been her dream to perform with him. Also Renée Fleming and Haden had discussed working on a project together years ago, but because of their schedules, it never took place. So she too was eager to participate, as were Jones, Gardot and Wilson. Haden didn't give any advice as to how to sing the songs. "I didn't say anything to the singers," he says. "I just wanted them to be inspired..."
While Sophisticated Ladies spotlight is on "the ladies" present, Haden balances the album with Quartet West's instrumental brilliance on half the album. While recording, the band members also paid homage to pianist Hank Jones with whom Haden had frequently collaborated (including a yet-to-be released duo album, Come Sunday, recorded shortly before the legendary artist passed).
Already released in Europe in October of 2010, Sophisticated Ladies was met with rave reviews and chart success. The record had a lengthy run in France as the #1 Jazz Album, where the publication Le Monde fittingly wrote, "six beauties, an impossible challenge and, in the end, real success," while German outlet Jazzthing described Sophisticated Ladies as, "a líttle bit of beauty in an insane world."