Nocturne (Verve Music Group)
Released April 17, 2001
Grammy Award for Best Latin Jazz Album 2002
Charlie Haden has a long-standing interest in Cuban music, first touched on with his Liberation Music Orchestra over 30 years ago. Nocturne expands on that affinity and on the bassist’s relationship with Cuban piano virtuoso Gonzalo Rubalcaba, who introduced Haden to the tradition of the Cuban ballad, or bolero. The result is this very unusual mix of slow- to medium-tempo pieces, limpid, sometimes almost somber songs that are filled with yearning romanticism, wistful lyricism, and an inner light. The program includes five Cuban ballads, including “Tres Palabras,” almost a jazz standard after recordings by Coleman Hawkins and Joe Henderson, and four from Mexico, among them Arturo Castro’s beautiful “Yo Sin Ti.” To this, Haden has added two originals and Rubalcaba one, and they’re perfectly continuous with the traditional material. Rubalcaba is clearly devoted to these melodies, his usual pyrotechnic flights replaced by subtle harmonic shadings that enrich the original tunes. Haden seems to sculpt these songs anew in his lower register, while drummer Ignacio Berroa adds varied and lilting percussion patterns.
1. En la Orilla del Mundo (At the Edge of the World) (Martín Rojas) 5:14
2. Noche de Ronda (Nigth of Wandering) (María Teresa Lara) 5:43
3. Nocturnal (José Sabre Marroquín / José Mojica) 6:56
4. Moonlight (Claro de Luna) (Charlie Haden) 5:37
5. Yo Sin Ti (Me Without You) (Arturo Castro) 6:02
6. No Te Empeñes Mas (Don’t Try Anymore) (Marta Valdes) 5:30
7. Transparence (Gonzalo Rubalcaba) 6:11
8. El Ciego (The Blind) (Armando Manzanero) 5:58
9. Nightfall (Charlie Haden) 6:40
10. Tres Palabras (Three Words) (Osvaldo Farrés) 6:18
11. Contigo en la Distancia (With You in the Distance) 6:33
Charlie Haden: bass
Gonzalo Rubalcaba: piano
Ignacio Berroa: drums, percussion
Joe Lovano: tenor saxophone (1, 4, 7, 11)
David Sanchez: tenor saxophone (6, 10)
Federico Britos Ruiz: violin (1, 5, 8)
Pat Metheny: acoustic guitar (2)
Recorded August 27-31, 2000 at Criteria / The Hit Factory Studios, Miami, FL.
Produced by Charlie Haden and Gonzalo Rubalcaba
Recording, Mastering, Mixing: Jay Newland
Assistant Engineer: Chris Carroll, Jimmy Hoyson
Executive Producer: Daniel Richard
What do you hear in darkness? The little things? Sounds that go unnoticed during the day. Crickets, creaking hinges, softly purring machinery, the hum of automobile traffic, and perhaps a distant television or radio. Night creatures are everywhere; but you don’t see them. You hear the same things they hear, though; and it helps you to concentrate on your work.
Charlie Haden’s ballad album, Nocturne , follows from his love of film noir. Like his Quartet West, this augmented trio interprets scenery with a lyrical ear. Consisting of slow dances with moody melodies, the program contains the essence of romance. Whether the melody comes from violin, saxophone, guitar, piano or bass, it always comes close to saying “Besame mucho.” Boleros allow the artists considerable freedom. The session is quiet, and Haden’s bass solos flow seamlessly between the scenes. His album paints a different side of Latin jazz than the one that usually comes to mind. Instead of driving rhythms and powerful percussion, Haden’s session relies on lyrics and harmony. No, lyrics aren’t employed overtly here; however, they’re always at the center of each lovely melody.
Valentine’s Day is coming. Nocturne has a romantic spirit that no one could possibly miss. It’s what the world needs now.
Jim Santella (All About Jazz)