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Charlie Haden: R.I.P.


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Charlie Haden, bassist, passed away 11 July.


His bass playing was an unique voice in jazz; from and before the time I really started listening to this music (after the death of Jimi Hendrix) Charlie Haden was always there.


His tone was beautiful, big and round, his playing measured and unhurried at all tempos and the intonation always totally true and perfect.

He absolutely communicated through his instrument; an unmistakable and (IMO) timeless sound with great depth. As if it had always been there - I can't put it any other way.


And he had a pretty incredible life; played with pianist Hampton Hawes, came to controversial prominence in the classic Ornette Coleman quartet line-up - Coleman/Don Cherry/Haden/Billy Higgins or Ed Blackwell, extraordinary 'Free Jazz' and much more; then forged close musical ties in the 1960s and through the 70s with Keith Jarrett, Carla Bley ('Liberation Music Orchestra'), Alice Coltrane, Pat Metheny, European saxophonist Jan Garbarek, pianist Denny Zeitlin and others.


There was a truly amazing Keith Jarrett group in the early-mid 70s with Haden, Paul Motian on drums and ex-Coleman sax player Dewey Redman.

Haden's own brainchild with Carla Bley was Liberation Music Orchestra, very political and with a line-up of A-list 'avant-garde' jazzers which convened just 3 or 4 times over the decades - I saw a gig in London, early 80s I think and still have the original album.

At one point in the 60s or 70s Haden was detained in Portugal for his political beliefs.


Later, with Jack DeJohnette he was the rhythm section on Pat Metheny's "80-81" album which was life-changing for both Metheny and saxophonist Michael Brecker.

He made a stunningly beautiful duet album with Metheny - "Beyond The Missouri Sky" (if you live in Missouri please tell me about it) then he formed Quartet West with saxophonist Ernie Watts.


There was no-one else like this guy and there won't be another.


Please if you can, take a moment to listen -




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