Bolero is the Latin American equivalent of ballads — slow, romantic, mid-tempo and loaded with sentimentality. As such, it is a style of music more suited to dancers moving cheek-to-cheek by candlelight than to a cutting-edge improvisational jazz artist. But on his latest release on the Gitanes label, “Nocturne,” Charlie Haden demonstrates just how right the unlikely combination can be.
Though best-known for his bass work with everyone from Ornette Coleman to Keith Jarrett — and though modern Cuban styles and slower varieties of salsa can be traced to bolero’s subtle flavors and shuffling rhythm — Haden focuses entirely on creating an authentic, reverential homage, on delivering bolero in its purest form. Even Cuban-born pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba and percussionist Ignacio Berroa rein in their jazz and salsa instincts to focus on the lilting melodies and delicate harmonies.
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