Always Say Goodbye is part of the continuing Quartet West project by Haden, in which the venerable bassist attempts to evoke the spirit of Hollywood circa 1930-1940. To that end, the record opens and closes with snippets from the soundtrack to The Big Sleep, one of Haden's favorite movies. After the introduction, the album seamlessly transitions to the title track, the leader's own composition and one of the high points on the record. Alan Broadbent's solo piano introduction perfectly sets the mood that is sustained throughout the entire album: one of acute nostalgia. Other devices used to inculcate this mood is the peculiar device of the dual performance, in which a recording of a song is played first by Haden's quartet and is then followed by a sampled performance of the same song by a great jazz artist of the past. The results, though at first a little bit unsettling, are quite spectacular. Particularly instructive is "Ou Es-Tu, Mon Amour? (Where Are You, My Love?)," where violin legend Stephane Grappelli joins the quartet for one reading, which soon makes way to a Django Reinhardt-Grappelli version of the same song recorded in 1949. Nostalgia has never been this tangible -- this solid and real. The quartet that Haden has assembled is top-notch. The leader is as tasty as ever, his warm lines implying the beat and the pulse of each song as often as they strictly denote and delimit it. Ernie Watts' tenor sound is one of the most vocal around, and pianist Broadbent and drummer Larance Marable make up a first-rate rhythm section. Broadbent also is an extremely melodic improviser, and his solos reveal a thoughtful, complete musician. Broadbent also is responsible for the extremely elegant use of strings on "My Love and I (Love Song From Apache)" and "Everything Happens to Me." Highly recommended.
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AllMusic Review by Daniel Gioffre