Charlie Haden: Sunday at the Hillcrest


Sunday at the Hillcrest


Charlie Haden's Quartet West


In Angel City (Verve 837 031-2)

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Charlie Haden (bass), Ernie Watts (tenor sax), Alan Broadbent (piano), Larance Marable (drums).

Composed by Charlie Haden


Recorded: Hollywood, CA, May 30-June 1, 1988


Rating: 94/100 (learn more)

Haden has used the Quartet West as an outlet to express his fascination with the music, film, and atmosphere of promise and decadence that pervaded Los Angeles in the '40's and '50's, performing a blend of mostly Film Noir-derived originals and standards, bebop, and the occasional Ornette Coleman composition. The Club Hillcrest in L.A. is where Haden first performed with Coleman, Don Cherry, Billy Higgins, and Paul Bley, and "Sunday at the Hillcrest" is dedicated to that period just before Haden left Angel City for New York in 1959 with Ornette's groundbreaking quartet.

"Sunday at the Hillcrest" is a catchy bebop theme graced by Marable's exquisitely precise drum rhythms and accents. Watts confidently navigates the changes as his solo encompasses a stretch of territory ranging from soulful hard bop to biting post bop, his distinctively thick, semi-sweet sound amplifying his inventiveness. Broadbent, relatively unknown back then, displays his considerable technical flair and knowledge of the bop vernacular. Haden's concise solo is an uncompromising facsimile of the kind he often played with Coleman. Watts' high-energy trades with Marable and the saxophonist's testifying out-chorus cap a lustrous Quartet West track.

The CD's liner notes include a long, cynical excerpt from Raymond Chandler's Little Sister, ending with: "It [Los Angeles] smelled stale and old like a living room that had been closed too long. But the colored lights fooled you. The lights were wonderful. There ought to be a monument to the man who invented neon lights....There's a boy who really made something out of nothing." Haden, with his Quartet West, has made a substantial something artistically out of nostalgia.

Reviewer: Scott Albin


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