Message At Charlie Haden Memorial: “Hey, Man—We’re Family”

Carla Bley (at piano) led The Liberation Music Orchestra to end a memorial concert for its founder, bassist Charlie Haden/photo: Jacob Blickenstaff

Minutes into Tuesday night’s memorial concert for Charlie Haden at Manhattan’s Town Hall, on a screen above the stage, came the first of several excerpts from a documentary, “Rambling Boy,” that punctuated three-plus hours of music and testimonials. Here was Haden as a boy, no more than two or three, singing and yodeling with confident joy.
Long before Haden helped ignite a jazz revolution while in his early twenties, as bassist in saxophonist Ornette Coleman’s quartet; before he spent a decade in another landmark band led by pianist Keith Jarrett; before he formed his Liberation Music Orchestra, blending avant-garde, big-band jazz and Latin American folk traditions with bold political statements; before his Quartet West, which played noir ballads inspired by Raymond Chandler novels and movie themes; before memorable duet recordings of spirituals and hymns, and decades of collaborations with musicians that spanned three generations of jazz’s finest players and nearly all its idioms, Haden was “Cowboy Charlie,” a precocious toddler singing his way into listeners hearts on his parents’ radio show.
The evening’s performances, mostly of Haden’s compositions, made a case for his body of work as one that will endure and deserves further interpretation. The spoken testimonials, along with the documentary clips, more or less traced the path and framed the influence of one remarkable musician. Yet what came across most powerfully was how Haden, through his music, presence, and personality, built bonds that seemed familial and coursed through actual families. And we received one after another example, through music and words, of how Haden led others to reveal themselves in moving and even brave ways. Get my full story here, along with a slideshow of images.
Siblings Petra, Rachel, Josh, and Tanya Haden, accompanied by guitarist Bill Frisell, singing “Voice From on High” / Credit Jacob Blickenstaff

Stars Will Come Out And Friends Will Gather to Remember Charlie Haden on Jan. 13

Bassist Charlie Haden in 2010/photo by Steven Perilloux

Below this post is a list of musicians and others who made a mark in jazz or blues, and who died in 2014, as forwarded by radio host George Klein.
I’ve posted at length on some of these deaths (Roy Campbell, Amiri BarakaFred Ho).
The one that hit me hardest was Charlie Haden. As I wrote here:

In conversation as on the bandstand, where he played his bass with graceful authority and achieved great renown, Charlie Haden was both soft-spoken and outspoken. In his life and his music, he was exceedingly gentle, drawn to simple beauty yet also at home within wild complexity and unafraid of controversial ideas and hard truths.
Haden was a towering figure of American music. His influence and appeal reached into all quarters of jazz, and well beyond that genre. His ability to innovate helped sparked at least one musical revolution, as a member of the Ornette Coleman Quartet. His unerring sense of time and love of melody anchored and focused many distinguished bands, some of which he led. His radiant humanity and stalwart voice for social justice was both rare and powerful in any field.

Those who doubt that jazz still has a community, one that shares a singular bond and a common purpose, don’t grasp the essence of Haden’s career and probably never attended a memorial for a fallen jazz hero.
I’ll be there—and you should be too—when musicians, other colleagues and fans gather in Haden’s honor in Manhattan for a memorial organized by his widow, singer Ruth Cameron Haden.

a memorial and celebration of his life
Tuesday, Jan.13, 2015 at 7:00 PM
The Town Hall
123 West 43rd Street NYC 10036
for more information, go here

THIS EVENT IS FREE! General Admission. Doors open at 6 pm.

Tax deductible donations to benefit the Charlie Haden CalArts Scholarship Fund to assist jazz students in need can be made at the venue or sent to: P.O. Box 520, Agoura Hills, CA 91376.

Among the many scheduled performers: Geri Allen, Kenny Barron, Carla Bley, Jack DeJohnette, Denardo Coleman, Ravi Coltrane, Bill Frisell, Ethan Iverson, Josh Haden and the Haden Triplets, Ruth Cameron-Haden, Dr, Maurice Jackson, Lee Konitz, Pat Metheny, Josh Redman, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Brandee Younger, as well as Quartet West with Alan Broadbent, Ernie Watts, Rodney Green, with Scott Colley on bass, and Liberation Music Orchestra with Carla Bley, Tony Malaby, Chris Cheek, Loren Stillman, Michael Rodriguez, Seneca Black, Curtis Fowlkes, Vincent Chancey, Joe Daley, Steve Cardenas, Matt Wilson, with Steve Swallow on bass.
What follows is Klein’s roll call (annotations are his). I welcome your additions for overlooked names. And I hope to see you at Town Hall. Continue reading “Stars Will Come Out And Friends Will Gather to Remember Charlie Haden on Jan. 13”