Album: Charlie Haden Quartet West, Sophisticated Ladies (Emarcy)

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The Independent Culture

You can't knock the sheer class of this major-label grand production matching bassist Haden's film noir-inspired quartet – one of the best groups of the past 20 years – with guest singers Cassandra Wilson, Diana Krall, Melody Gardot, Norah Jones, Renée Fleming and Ruth Cameron (Haden's wife, who co-produces).

The repertoire leaves room for instrumental chops from saxophonist Ernie Watts, while Haden's big bass fiddle thumps out the time with authority. The rest of the group's catalogue should be explored, too.