Recorded December 19-22, 2003 at Avatar Studios, NYC
Mixed February 22-28, 2004 at Capitol Studios, Los Angeles, California
Mastered April 12, 2004 at the Mastering Lab, Los Angeles, California
It should come as no surprise that Land of the Sun, a collection of Mexican ballads written by three of Mexico's most prominent modern composers, is yet another chapter in Charlie Haden's continually unfolding musical biography. Haden was given a folder of songs by the late and legendary Mexican composer Jose Sabre Marroquin by his daughter as a thank-you for his recording of "Nocturnal." Haden went over the tunes and decided to record some of them; he turned them over to pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba for arranging, employed a stellar band, and Land of the Sun is the end result. What a result. There are eight compositions by Marroquin and one each by Augustin Lara and Armando Manzanero, in their own right prolific and revered songwriters who have been recorded in this country by Presley, Sinatra, and Bennett, to name a few. The band assembled for this project is stellar - Joe Lovano, Ignacio Berroa, Rubalcaba, Miguel Zenon, Oriente Lopez, Larry Koonse, Lionel Loueke, Michael Rodriguez, and Juan De La Cruz. Rubalcaba's charts don't transform the songs into jazz tunes, but rather become an entryway for melodic improvisation, rhythmic invention, and group interplay. Rubalcaba's front-line interaction with Lovano, Zenon, and Rodriguez - especially on "De Siempre" - is emotionally honest and musically inspiring. "Nostalgia," introduced by Spanish guitar, percussion, and piano, is a wonderful springlike bittersweet melody wrapped in a languid rhythm and made poignant first by Rodriguez, and then Zenon, before the guitars waft back in. Lara's "Solamenta una Vez" is arranged for trio here. Rubalcaba's solo, with its shifting ostinati and alternating chordal and single-note runs, is breathtaking. Lovano's lyricism on "Esta Tarde Vi Llover," by Manzanero, is played in his best Ben Webster. With skittering brush work by Berroa, Lovano accents the tune's similarities to "A Kiss Is Just a Kiss" before turning it over to Rubalcaba, who extrapolates the harmony and opens it up against De La Cruz's bongos. Land of the Sun is a deeply romantic album, but it is lush without artificial ornamentation or affectation. Musically, its refinement is such that it begs critical as well as casual listening. Hopefully this won't be the last such exercise from Haden and Rubalcaba, but an introduction.
-Thom Jurek (All Music Guide)
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A Few Worlds About My Father:
I remember my father as an amazing human being: extremely caring, creative, disciplined, and with an absolute passion for music.
Since he was eight years old he played the drums in his father's orchestra alongside much older professional musicians. When he was eighteen he formed his own orchestra and evolved as a remarkable composer, pianist, arranger and orchestra conductor. From that early age he became one of the most prominent Mexican artists of his time. He wrote music for orchestra, movies, television and radio. Later in his career he became the musical director of the highest rated musical TV program in Mexico "Revista Musical Nescafe" and held that position for twenty-one years.
My dad was always creating and would often get his inspiration while dreaming. Many times he would wake up in the middle of the night just to write the initial themes for a song. I always saw him in love with his work and that is one of the greatest lessons he taught me. He showed me with actions that if you have a true passion for what you do, life is a joy. He taught me that when you have the courage to do what you love you touch everyone around you with that love and happiness for life.
I remember listening to his piano practices for countless hours. I also remember welcoming musicians from all over the world into our home. I especially enjoyed the after-concert, private performances right in our living room. My father and friends would always sing, laugh and make the type of music that would make my soul dance with bliss.
When he passed away he had been married for fifty four years and left a family of three daughters, one son and eleven grandchildren. Two of his grandchildren Alejandro and Criz Sabre have followed his musical footsteps in their unique way. Alejandro is a pianist and Criz is a songwriter who wrote the lyrics for three of the songs included in this album.
I feel grateful for having the unique experience of knowing my father not only as an artist but also as a friend and as a human being. To this day he still touches many people's hearts, lives and souls with the unique gift of his music.
- Patricia Sabre Marroquin, Mexico City, 2004
At the beginning of my memories my grandfather, Jose Sabre Marroquin, is sitting at his old brown piano making beautiful music. The window is open and the fresh air from a Mexico City that does not exist anymore softly comes inside the room. His big hands and playful eyes were always ready to transform his joy and pain into notes. He wrote out of love and each one of us, his grandchildren, had the privilege of having a song written for us when we were born.
"Cancion a Paola" is the song he wrote for my cousin Paola. Since I was a kid I always had an inexplicable feeling of sadness and joy every time I heard it. This song has two parts but for some unknown reason my grandfather would only play the main theme for me. I heard the complete version for the first time at Gonzalo Rubalcaba's house when Charlie and Gonzalo were talking about the arrangements for the album. "Cancion de Cuna a Patricia" is the lullaby my grandfather wrote for my mom. This song toured many concert halls throughout the world in the violin of the late master and close friend of my grandfather Henryk Szeryng.
"Nostalgia" (Nostalgia), "Anoranza" (Longing) and "De Siempre" (Forever) are songs that my grandfather wrote for violin and piano. These favorites of Henryk Szeryng were written with him in mind and also toured the world. I remember one afternoon my grandfather had tears in his eyes as he showed me a black and white photograph he received of Henryk's grave soon after his death. He loved Henryk like a brother.
About six years ago I had the privilege of writing the lyrics for three of the songs in this album. I wrote all of them during a week in spring in the late hours of the night when silence allowed me to listen to the inherent stories in the music. "Fuiste Tu" (It was You) is the diary of someone who recalls the events of the love of his life. "Cuando Te Podre Olvidar" (When Will I Forget You) is a waltz about life, love and the series of events that can happen before we pretend to let go of someone. "Sueno Solo Con Tu Amor" (I Only Dream of Your Love) is a song my grandfather wrote for my grandmother. The lyrics flowed very easily, as if my grandfather were dictating them from up above. This is the true love story of my grandparents. It talks about how they remained part of each other's lives until the end, even when "friends stopped knocking at the door".
"Solamente Una Vez" is a world-renowned classic from one of Mexico's most respected songwriters of all times, Agustin Lara. This song has been recorded throughout the world in five different languages. Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley recorded it in English with the title "You Belong to My Heart". Agustin was a good friend of my grandfather.
Before becoming one of Mexico's most prolific songwriters, Armando Manzanero was a student of my grandfather. Armando has written over four hundred songs, many of which have been recorded in different languages as is the case with "Esta Tarde Vi Llover". His music has been recorded by artists such as: Johnny Mathis, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennet and hundreds of Latin American Artists. His music is sought after and admired by young and old people alike.
Before my grandfather passed away I would visit him and we would listen to music together. Even though he never met Charlie in person he often asked me to play "Palhaco", a song from the album "Magico" where Charlie plays with Jan Garbarek and Egberto Gismonti. Inevitably my grandfather and I would sit in perfect silence and listen in awe. It always brought tears to his eyes.
- Criz Sabre
In 2003, after a performance in Austin, Texas, with the musicians from my recording Nocturne, I was introduced to Patricia Mendes who had come to the concert in order to personally thank me for recording her father's song "Nocturnal" and present me with a gift, a folder of her father's compositions. Her father was Jose Sabre Marroquin, the great Mexican composer. I was thrilled and greatly honored that she was happy with our presentation of her fathers composition.
Once I got back home in L.A., I began to go through all of the songs I had been given, and was immediately struck by the beauty of each and every one of them. I called Gonzalo to tell him that I wanted to record some special compositions that I had just heard, and asked him whether he'd like to write the arrangements. He loved the songs, and we then began the process of choosing what to record. This cd includes eight songs by Jose Sabre Marroquin, and a song each by Agustin Lara and Armando Manzanero.
So, you see, this recording is about three great Mexican composers who reflect the beauty of the music of Mexico - Land of the Sun.
- Charlie Haden