Charlie Haden / Aug 6, 1937 - July 11, 2014

One of the greats, happy birthday to jazz bassist/composer/activist Charlie Haden. He was part of the revolutionary Ornette Coleman Quartet that took the jazz world by storm when they arrived in NYC in the late '50s.

He grew up in Iowa from a professional country music family, singing with them until polio messed up his voice. After seeing Charlie Parker and Stan Kenton live in '54 he started playing jazz as a bassist. In '57 he moved to Los Angeles and started playing with Paul Bley, Art Pepper and Hampton Hawes. He was roommate for awhile with bass legend Scott LaFaro and joined Ornette's group, moving to NYC with them in 1959.

Heroin addiction in the early '60s took Haden off the scene for awhile, returning in '64 with John Handy. He gigged with Archie Shepp, Roswell Rudd, Tony Scott, Atilla Zoller, as well as old school guys like Pee Wee Russell, before returning to Ornette's band in '67.

He founded his activist big band Liberation Music Orchestra in '69. He worked in Keith Jarrett's band with Dewey Redman and Paul Motian (I call it the Birth band) for several years. He co-formed the Ornette tribute band Old & New Dreams (with Redman, Don Cherry and Ed Blackwell), a group of Ornette sidemen exploring strictly Coleman music. In '86 he founded his long-running neo-bop group Quartet West.

Through the years he has recorded in the duo format with several of the above-mentioned, as well as with Pat Metheny, Alice Coltrane, Hank Jones, Jim Hall and more. He also played with Joe Henderson, Geri Allen, John Coltrane, Abbey Lincoln, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Yoko Ono, Egberto Gismonti and many more.

Later in his life, he reconnected to his country music roots with a new generation Haden family band, which included his wife, his musician children and son-in-law Jack Black. He was an educator and an activist, making explicitly anti-war music right til the end.


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