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Charlie Haden - FUV Live - 1997

by Darren DeVivo
Charlie Haden, photo by Steven Perilloux

The jazz community is mourning the passing of one of its great innovators. Jazz bassist and composer, Charlie Haden, died on Friday, July 11, in Los Angeles. He was 76 years old. His contributions to jazz are immeasurable and his resume is enormous. Charlie never quite settled into any one jazz niche. On one hand, he was a pivotal figure in the birth of the free jazz movement. On the other, he made recordings that drew on traditional American folk music.

Charlie was the leader of the Liberation Music Orchestra. He fronted the incredible Charlie Haden Quartet West. Their albums "Haunted Heart", "Always Say Goodbye" and "Now Is The Hour" are some of my favorite jazz albums. He plays on Ornette Coleman’s groundbreaking albums from 1959-61: "The Shape Of Jazz To Come", "Change Of The Century", the Ornette Coleman Quartet's "This Is Our Music" and the masterpiece from the Ornette Coleman Double Quartet, "Free Jazz A Collective Improvisation By The Ornette Coleman Double Quartet". Charlie worked with Keith Jarrett. He was a member of Old and New Dreams. He did some wonderful work with one of my all time favorites, Pat Metheny. Check out Charlie and Pat's 1997 album "Beyond The Missouri Sky", Pat's "80/81" (1980) with Charlie, Jack DeJohnette, Dewey Redman and Mike Brecker, Pat's "Rejoicing" (1984) with Charlie and Billy Higgins and "Song X", the 1986 Pat Metheny/Ornette Coleman album that Charlie, Jack DeJohnette and Denardo Coleman are also on. Charlie even played on Ringo Starr’s 2003 album, Ringo Rama! These are just some of the accomplishments in Charlie Haden’s career, which spanned nearly 60 years.

Charlie's children - Josh, Petra, Tanya and Rachel are all musicians. Jack Black, who is married to Tanya Haden, is his son-in law. Pat Metheny was best man at Charlie and Ruth Cameron’s wedding.

I had the honor of interviewing Charlie Haden on WFUV in 1997 when "Beyond The Missouri Sky" was newly released. He was extremely kind and gentle. It was such a pleasure to meet this great man.

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