Charlie Haden with Michael Brecker: American Dreams (2002)
The strongest impression several listenings of of American Dreams leaves is: What a great quartet. "Charlie Haden with Michael Brecker" the label proclaims, but it could just as well say The New Charlie Haden Quartet. Pianist Brad Mehldau and drummer Brian Blade round out the core quartet, and the unit achieves a rare level of cohesion. Maybe it's the bassman, Charlie Haden; a truly great bassist brings everyone up a notch or two. He did it on bluesman James Cotton's '96 CD, "Deep in the Blues"; he does it with his own Quartet West.
Mehldau benefits the most here. His conversations with Brecker's sax are intimate and precise, his soloing inventive and restrained; and his "Ron's Place", done with just the quartet, is a pensive gem.
Songs by Pat Metheny, Keith Jarrett, Haden's old running mate Ornette Coleman, an unexpectedly beautiful take on the unlikely "America the Beautiful", deft string arrangements, a few quartet takes to break the pacing up and keep it interesting
An essential CD for fans of the Verve ..with Strings genre.
Track Listing: American Dreams, Travels, No Lonely Nights, It Might be You, Prism, American the Beautiful, Nightfall, Ron's Place, bittersweet, Young and Foolish, Bird Food, Sotto Voce, Love Like Ours
Personnel: Charlie Haden, bass; Michael Brecker, tenro sax; Brad Meldau, piano; Brian Blade, drums; and 34 piece orchestra
Record Label: Verve Music Group