Charlie Haden

From Academic Kids

Charles Edward Haden (born August 6, 1937) is a jazz double bassist, probably best known for his long association with saxophonist Ornette Coleman.

Haden was born in Missouri, and raised in a musical family, which often performed together on the radio playing country music and American folk songs. Haden made his professional debut as a singer when he was two years old, and continued singing with his family until he contracted a mild form of polio when he was 14. The polio damaged his throat muscles and vocal chords, and as a result, Haden was unable to control his pitch while singing. A few years before contracting polio, Haden had become interrested in jazz, and began playing his older brother's double bass.

Haden moved to Los Angeles in the mid-1950's, and quickly began playing professionally, including stints with pianist Hampton Hawes and saxophonist Art Pepper.

Haden became famous playing with Ornette Coleman in the late 1950s and 1960s when Coleman was starting his experimental stage culminating in the album The Shape of Jazz To Come. This album was released to much critical acclaim and skepticism at the time, and Haden himself remarked that the harmolodic style of playing was so confusing to him at first that he resigned himself to repeating Coleman's lines on the bass. It was only later that he had enough confidence to start playing his own lines during the performances.

Besides his association with Ornette Coleman, Haden was also a member of Keith Jarrett's trio and "American quartet" from 1967 to 1976 with Paul Motian and Dewey Redman. He played in the collective Old and New Dreams.

He went on to lead the Liberation Music Orchestra in the 1970s. Their music was very experimental, exploring the realms of free jazz and political music at the same time; specifically, the LMO's first album focused on the Spanish Civil War. This thematic exploration of genres of music not typically considered to be a jazz standard becomes one of his signature approaches with his Quartet West.

The Charlie Haden Quartet West, started in 1987, consisted of Ernie Watts on sax, Alan Broadbent on piano and Larance Marable on drums. This group featured lush, romantic arrangements by Broadbent, often with strings, and was the recipient of many awards. With largely the same musicians Haden went on to explore spiritual hymns with Hank Jones, American folk music in the American Hymns, film noir music in Always Say Goodbye, and Cuban folk music in Nocturne.

In the late 1997 he collaborated on a duet with Pat Metheny on the guitar, exploring the music that influenced them in their childhood experiences in Missouri with what they call Americana music. This collaboration culminated in the album Beyond the Missouri Skies (Short Stories) and their worldwide tours together.

Charlie Haden is known for his signature lyrical bass lines, and is one of the most respected jazz bassists and jazz composers today. His daughters, Petra and Rachel Haden, are both musicians, formerly of That Dog; Petra has since joined indie rock group The Decemberists.

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