The current Quartet West is comprised of Allan Broadbent (piano), Ernie Watts (tenor saxophone), Rodney Green (drums) and of course Charlie Haden on acoustic bass. Haden, Watts and Broadbent are original members of Quartet West along with Larance Marable. Other legendary drummers over the history of the band have included, Billy Higgins, Paul Motian and Billy Hart. Rodney Green is certainly in the company of great drummers; he manages to come up to the bar and soars over it with the skill of a master.
Opening the show with the classic Charlie Parker song Passport, the band caught the groove and stayed on track throughout. Green would solo to an introduction of Haden and provide accompaniment while Haden performed, telling a wonderful story with clean, fluid and dynamic bass lines. The old nostalgic song was approached with original, innovative and fresh ideas. Haden sustains his notes and plays bass in a very lyrical style. During the songs he is the heartbeat, driving the band forward with an incredible energy and spirit.
On fire at this nights performance, Ernie Watts played some of the most lyrical lines Ive ever heard. In a blend of cool jazz and rip-roaring hard bop, with a spattering of avant-garde atonal runs thrown in, he delighted the audience on each appearance at centre stage. One moment, he would be playing along smoothly and melodically; a moment after, he was firing off runs at superhuman speed. When playing in the middle register his tone is glorious, upon reaching the high end he would nail high notes and hold them for what seemed would be eternity.
The band performed five songs and an encore number, performing close to two hours that was to go by in a flash of brilliance. Other songs performed included, Hello My Lovely, Child Play, First Song (For Ruth) and Lonely Women, the Ornette Coleman song. Haden mentioned a recent gig in New York at the Blue Note, a visit with Mr. Coleman while in town, and a glorious two days of playing in his loft. Here is for hoping that a new recording of that meeting is in the works.