Charlie Haden-Quartet West , Now Is The Hour, Verve #314 529 827-2. Total time: 59:40, on 12 tracks. Category: Jazz. Released 1996. Widely available. Overall Rating: *** out of ***** (Will certainly be played occasionally).

You can't judge an album by its cover, or perhaps you can. Post-WWII photographs don the outside of Charlie Haden's latest outing, and post-war prosperity is reflected in its opulent, nostalgic sound. Strings arranged and conducted by Alan Broadbent create a swirling blend of sound that complements the Quartet nicely.

For those who like their jazz mellow and soothing, this album fits the bill. Haden's bass on Victor Young's "Left Hand of God" is striking, pulling away from the orchestra, but never leaving it.

For those who like their jazz a tad more rambunctious and quartet-like, Haden and the group present an admirable version of Charlie Parker's "Back Home Blues." Staying with the mellow, nostalgic sound yet a bit more intimate than the string orchestra-laden songs is "All Through The Night," a Cole Porter song. Bud Powell's "Blue Pearl" features beautiful work by Ernie Watts on tenor and Broadbent on piano. "Marable's Parable" provides an interesting Latin touch.

Generally, this album is a little heavy on the strings for my tastes, but it fits in with the nostalgic, film music undercurrent. This is pleasant music for a quiet evening; even the upbeat tracks won't bounce you out of the room, and there aren't enough of them to spoil that mellow mood.

Reviewed 4 July 1996. Page updated 5 July 1996. Minor editing 22 July 2001 and links edited 30 October 2007.

Overall rating: ***
0 *'s Peeyew!
* Makes a good coaster.
** Fair attempt at something resembling music.
*** Certainly to be played more than once.
**** Will be put on a regular rotation for my CD player.
***** The world would halt if this disk didn't exist.

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