Charlie Haden teams up once more with the young Cuban pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba for this melancholy, soothing album. Ignacio Berroa, on drums and percussion, completes the core trio. Special guests include tenor saxophonists Joe Lovano and David Sanchez, violinist Federico Britos Ruiz, and guitarist Pat Metheny (one track only). Rubalcaba contributes orchestrations on two cuts, both of which omit drums and percussion. Haden's intention is to explore the bolero, a distinctive Latin dance rhythm that Ignacio Berroa accents with a soft, subtle snare drum roll, played with brushes, beginning on the "and" of the first beat of the bar and ending on the second. This rhythm is perfect for a slow dance, and indeed, the entire album is highly romantic, with bittersweet melodies and lilting cadences. The only problem is that Berroa's bolero figure anchors nearly every track -- perhaps what one should expect from a bolero album, but there's no getting around the fact that the music sounds pretty much the same throughout. (To be fair, Berroa isn't solely to blame for the sameness.) Most of the songs, save for two originals by Haden and one by Rubalcaba, are Cuban and Mexican standards, and they're beauties. Haden's reluctance to mess with them is understandable. But the unvaryingly straightforward arrangements fade too easily into the background. Nocturne may well be the best candlelight dinner music ever, but Haden and his guests are capable of more.
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AllMusic Review by David R. Adler