Sunday, July 13, 2014

Charlie Haden 1937 - 2014

Jazz lost one of its greatest bassists this past Friday. Mr. Haden was 76, and evidently had been ill for some time. There have already numerous articles, blog posts and forum entries paying tribute to the man, so rather than retell the facts about his career, I wanted to mention a couple of performances that particularly resonated with me when I had just discovered jazz as a teenager.

I think my first exposure to Mr. Haden’s music was his contribution to Ornette Coleman’s Crisis, which was also my introduction to Ornette. For some reason that Impulse LP was still lying around in the bins of my local record store in 1974 when I picked it up. Here’s Haden’s Song for Che from that album:

As great as that record is, Haden really caught my attention with his work of Paul Motian’s Tribute, released in ’74 and still one of my favorite records from ECM’s “classic” period, when the label released gem after gem. Tribute is a great example of Haden’s monster, fat sound and his ability to simultaneously support and drive the music being made. There are parts of this record where he gets as funky as I’ve ever heard him.

Truly one of the very greatest bassists of any period of jazz, his death is a profound loss. Thank you, Mr. Haden, for helping a teenaged kid discover the magic that’s inherent in this music.

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