Charlie Haden's Quartet West launched the ensemble that would become his most popular grouping throughout the '80s and '90s. Haden, who had made a name for himself as an avant-garde bassist in Ornette Coleman's band and elsewhere, including the influential Liberation Music Orchestra, returned to a bop-influenced, more mainstream sound with this grouping. While the album may not be stretching many boundaries stylistically, this format does little to dilute Haden's impressive performances, and his love for this material is made obvious with his intricate arrangements, especially on the two Ornette Coleman tunes, "The Good Life" and "The Blessing." ("The Blessing" appears as one of two bonus tracks on the CD version, with the other being Billy Strayhorn's "Passion Flower.") "The Good Life," in particular, is infused with energy, and is a showcase for some nimble, joyous, effortless playing by pianist Alan Broadbent. Haden has three originals here, the strongest of which, "In the Moment," shows off some of the rhythmic complexity that he has displayed in his previous work. Perhaps the true highlight of the album, though, is a version of Charlie Parker's "Passport" that brings together the whole band in one exuberant expression of energy.
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AllMusic Review by Stacia Proefrock