Bach-Loving Bassist Pays Tribute to Mexico, Puts Beauty Before Bush


“Nostalgia” and “De Siempre (Forever),” which follow each other midway through Charlie Haden’s Land of the Sun and are among the CD’s most beguiling tracks, make it easy to hear what drew Haden to the music of José Sabre Marroquin (1909–1995)—beyond the prayer-like lyricism they have in common, their shared love of Bach. Although primarily a TV and film composer, Marroquin also wrote on commission for Henryk Szeryng, a Polish violinist and Bach specialist. Both pieces were spawned from that collaboration, and both pivot on an intricate style of counterpoint that has always been Haden’s forte as a bassist. It’s a little misleading to single these out, though, because everything on Haden’s salute to Mexico is of a piece and haunting—even a version of Armando Manzanero’s “Yesterday I Heard the Rain” that becomes a different song spared Gene Lees’s bombastically sensitive English lyrics. Joe Lovano, Miguel Zenón, and a few others solo buoyantly, but next to Haden and Marroquin, the real stars are Michael Rodriguez, whose trumpet leads sing the heart, and Gonzalo Rubalcaba, whose economical arrangements and piano interludes are the antithesis of his busy CDs as a leader. This is one to reach for after Maria Schneider’s Concert in the Garden. And just in case you’ve been waiting for Charlie to get angry again, he and Carla Bley have recorded another Liberation Music Orchestra for release next year. Stay angry enough to vote while you’re waiting.