|Charlie Haden's Liberation Music Orchestra with Carla Bley
Charlie Haden - bassist, composer, bandleader, and conscientiously political artist - is truly a musician of imaginative, intuitive, and communicative powers. A "poet" of the bass, he has contributed his virtuosity to many of the most compelling records in jazz. As a vital part of the jazz revolution begun by his mentor, Ornette Coleman, he leads his own groups and through his music, communicates his deep, rich, resonant sound reflecting a profound sensibility to music and to life.
Charlie Haden bass
Carla Bley, piano
Seneca Black, trumpet
Steve Cardenas, guitar
Chris Cheek, tenor sax
Curtis Fowlkes, trombone
Joe Daley, tuba
Ahnee Sharon Freeman, french horn
Tony Malaby, tenor sax
Michael Rodriguez, trumpet
Matt Wilson, drums
Miguel Zenon, alto sax
Charlie Haden was born in Shenandoah, Iowa in 1937. From the time he was two years old until he was fifteen, he sang on the radio, and later television, every day with his family's country and western group. He learned to play the bass during his teens and after graudating from high school, moved to Los Angeles where he met and worked closely with Art Pepper, Hampton Hawes, Dexter Gordon, and Paul Bley. It was in Los Angeles in 1957 that Charlie also met Ornette Coleman. It was a prophetic meeting, for Charlie became the bass player for Ornette's adventurous new quartet, a quartet which also included Don Cherry on pocket trumpet, and Billy Higgins on drums. This group caused a revolution in the jazz world by liberating the soloist from conventional, pre-determined structures, both harmonic and rhythmic.
Charlie played a vital role in this revolutionary new approach, evolving a way of playing that sometimes complemented the soloist, and sometimes moved indipendently. In this respect, like such musicians as Jimmy Blanton and Charles Mingus, he helped to change the role of the bass from player being strictly an accompanist to becoming a more direct partecipant in music making and thus an important individual voice.
Not only did Charlie continue to work with Ornette throughout the 1960's, but he recorded with John Coltrane, Archie Shepp, and Pee Wee Russell as well. In 1966 he began touring with Keith Jarrett. In 1969, Charlie and composer Carla Bley assembled eleven musicians including Don Cherry, Gato Barbieri, and Roswell Rudd, under the banner of Liberation Music Orchestra to make a record that has become a milestone in recorded jazz. The record is a heartfelt and emotional statement about freedom from oppression and repression. It won the Grand Prix Charles Cros (the French equivalent of the Germany) as well as Japan's Gold Disc Award from the magazine Swing Journal. It also received a Grammy nomination. In the same year, Charlie was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for composition. In 1976, Haden, Don Cherry, Dewey Redman, and Ed Blackwell (all of whom had worked closely with Ornette Coleman) formed the group Old and New Dreams to keep alive Ornette's compositional and improvisational approaches - as well as his music. A debut album was recorded for Black Saint and several subsequent albums were done for ECM.
Charlie reorganized the Liberation Music Orchestra in 1984 with many of the original members - Paul Motian, Don Cherry, Dewey Redman, Carla Bley, and Michael Mantler. The group was joined by some new faces - Mick Goodrick, Jim Pepper, and Steve Slagle among them. Says Charlie: "The whole underlying theme for the new music...is to communicate honest, human values, and in doing that to try to improve the quality of life". The new album Ballad of the Fallen (MCA/Impulse), was named Record of the Year in the 1984 "Downbeat" Critic's Poll. In 1986, Charlie and Jack DeJohnette, playing with Ornette Coleman and Pat Metheny, recorded "Song X", which won the "Down Beat" Reader's and Critic's Poll. Charlie contributed to yet another award winning album in 1987, The Michael Brecker Album, which won both of the "Downbeat" polls. Charlie was also involved recently in another album with Brecker and Herbie Hancock. Also in 1987, Charlie participated in the historic reunion tour of the original Ornette Coleman Quartet, which also produced the album In All Languages.
Charlie's first venture as a small group leader was Quartet West which debuted in 1987 with Quartet West (Polygram/Verve), and performed to high critical acclaim throughout the world. The group is made up of Los Angeles musicians Ernie Watts on saxophones, Allan Broadbent on piano, and Larance Marable on drums. It's a wonderful group that reflects the vast scope of Charlie's musical interests, as well as adesire to evoke the Raymond Chandler film noir atmosphere of Hollywood in the 1940's. The band plays everything from Pat Metheny to Ornette Coleman to Charlie Parker to Haden's originals (some of which are inspired by the traditional folk tunes he sung as a boy). A second album, In Angel City (Polygram/Verve) followed, and a third, Haunted Heart (Polygram/Verve) will be released in the spring of 1992. Charlie Haden's Liberation Music Orchestra completed it's trilogy of recordings with the 1991 release of Dreamkeeper (Blue Note), which had the unique distinction of winning both the "Downbeat" Critic's and Reader's poll as Album of the Year. The Orchestra's repertoire continues to draw it's inspiration from liberation struggles throughout the world. Despite the difficulties of touring with this many musicians, the Liberation Music Orchestra has performed in Europe, Japan, the United States, and Canada, performing most recently at the Hollywood Bowl. In fitting tribute to a musician who has been involved with so many of the most creative musicians of the last three decades, the Montreal Jazz Festival in 1989 devoted eight consecutive concerts to Charlie, each night featuring him with a different artist or ensemble he has performed with in the past, including the Liberation Music Orchestra, Pat Metheny, Egberto Gismonti, and Gonzalo Rubalcabo. Charlie's interest in World Music is exemplified in his stunning duet recording with the brilliant Portuguese fado guitarist Carlos Paredes, Dialogues (Antilles). Charlie is also Founder of the Jazz Studies program at the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, California.