Music: Without Limits

Charlie Haden's latest is eclectic and elegant

How far can jazz go? It's a music of all soul and no limits, but there are, at some times and in some hands, certain arbitrary restrictions. Free form is fine, but the more precise disciplines of melody and orchestration can lead to suspicions of musical conservatism, even retrogression. Yet jazz can--and should--go anywhere, as long as the direction's not conventional, and there is no one better than Charlie Haden at taking an old road to a brand-new place.

Haden's most recent album with his Quartet West, the ravishing The Art of Song (Verve), is a lyrical excursion across a landscape...

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