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Charlie Haden

Biography

Born: August 6, 1937; Shenandoah, IA   Died: July 11, 2014; Los Angeles, CA  
As a member of saxophonist Ornette Coleman's early bands, bassist Charlie Haden became known as one of free jazz's founding fathers. Haden never settled into any of jazz's many stylistic niches, however. Certainly he played his share of dissonant music -- in the '60 and '70s, as a sideman with Coleman and Keith Jarrett, and as a leader of the Liberation Music Orchestra, for instance -- but for the most part, he seemed drawn to consonance. Witness Read more his trio with saxophonist Jan Garbarek and guitarist Egberto Gismonti, whose ECM album Silence epitomized a profoundly lyrical and harmonically simple aesthetic; or his duo with guitarist Pat Metheny, which has as much to do with American folk traditions as with jazz. There was a soulful reserve to Haden's art. Never does he play two notes when one (or none) will do. Not a flashy player along the lines of a Scott LaFaro (who also played with Coleman), Haden's facility was limited, but his sound and intensity of expression were as deep as any jazz bassist's. Rather than concentrate on speed and agility, Haden subtly explores his instrument's timbral possibilities with a sure hand and sensitive ear. Haden's childhood was musical. His family was a self-contained country & western act along the lines of the more famous Carter Family, with whom they were friends. They played revival meetings and county fairs in the Midwest and in the late '30s, had their own radio show that was broadcast twice daily from a 50,000-watt station in Shenandoah, IA (Haden's birthplace). Haden debuted on the family program at the tender age of 22 months, after his mother noticed him humming along to her lullabies. The family moved to Springfield, MO, and began a show there. Haden sang with the family group until contracting polio at the age of 15. The disease weakened the nerves in his face and throat, thereby ending his singing career. In 1955, Haden played bass on a network television show produced in Springfield, hosted by the popular country singer, Red Foley. Haden moved to Los Angeles and by 1957 had begun playing jazz with pianists Elmo Hope and Hampton Hawes and saxophonist Art Pepper. Beginning in 1957, he began an extended engagement with pianist Paul Bley at the Hillcrest Club. It was around then that Haden heard Coleman play for the first time, when the saxophonist sat in with Gerry Mulligan's band in another L.A. nightclub. Coleman was quickly dismissed from the bandstand, but Haden was impressed. They met and developed a friendship and musical partnership, which led to Coleman and trumpeter Don Cherry joining Bley's Hillcrest group in 1958. In 1959, Haden moved with Coleman to New York; that year, Coleman's group with Haden, Cherry, and drummer Billy Higgins played a celebrated engagement at the Five Spot, and began recording a series of influential albums, including The Shape of Jazz to Come and Change of the Century. In addition to his work with Coleman, the '60s saw Haden play with pianist Denny Zeitlin, saxophonist Archie Shepp, and trombonist Roswell Rudd. He formed his own big band, the Liberation Music Orchestra, which championed leftist causes. The band made a celebrated album, Song for Ché, in 1969 for Impulse. In 1976, Haden joined with fellow Coleman alumni Cherry, Dewey Redman, and Ed Blackwell to form Old and New Dreams. Also that year, he recorded a series of duets with Hawes, Coleman, Shepp, and Cherry, which was released as The Golden Number (A&M). In 1982, the Liberation Music Orchestra re-formed The Ballad of the Fallen (ECM). Haden helped found a university level jazz education program at CalArts in the '80s. He continued to perform, both as a leader and sideman. In the '90s, his primary performing unit became the bop-oriented Quartet West, with tenor saxophonist Ernie Watts, pianist Alan Broadbent, and drummer Larance Marble. He would also reconstitute the Liberation Music Orchestra for occasional gigs. In 2000, Haden reunited with Coleman for a performance at the Bell Atlantic Jazz Festival in New York City. Read less
Browse 1-1 of 1 Available Recordings
  • 1.
    Danzas / Montreal Guitar Trio
    Label: Analekta   Catalog: 5048473 Release Date: 02/10/2017   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Al Di Meola,  Agustín Barrios Mangoré,  Paco De Lucia,  Manuel de Falla  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Montréal Guitar Trio
    On sale! $26.99
    CD: $18.99
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