Charlie Haden

Sam Pawlett rsp at
Sun Sep 26 00:24:41 MDT 1999

Louis Proyect wrote:
> I have been moved to write about jazz bassist Charlie Haden after listening
> to his latest and greatest CD, "The Art of the Song". It is consistent with
> a number of others that he has released over the past half-decade evoking a
> sort of romantic and retro approach to jazz, strongly influenced by a
> vision of the more innocent Los Angeles of post-WWII years and of movie
> culture.

Ah, but Haden's inspiration -the L.A. of film noir- was not so innocent
but still not as hard boiled as some of the  New York noirs. As Jake
Gittes says in that classic neo-noir *Chinatown* "L.A.'s a small town,
people talk."

> The songs on the latest include some decidedly obscure tunes drawn from
> even more obscure films. Typical is "You My Love", a ballad originally sung
> by Frank Sinatra in the 1954 "Young at Heart". With west coasters Ernie
> Watts on tenor sax, Larance Marable on drums and Alan Broadbent on piano,
> vocals by Shirley Horn and Bill Henderson,

  The only problem with this group is Ernie Watts who started as a
schlock player in the Kenny G style. I still hear that schlock style in
his playing. Broadbent is fabulous.

 and a 28 piece string section,
> the lush mood created is reminiscent of Charlie Parker's famous (infamous
> to some) Verve records backed by string section and led by Mitch Miller.

  Parker's Rockland Palace complete concert w/strings is now available.
This was a concert put on by the CPUSA to fundraise. Charlie Parker was
a genius he sounded good in any context, even when strung out.

> Coleman believed the bebop obsession with chords or key changes had led
> down a blind alley.

Coleman was also a great composer. Many of his tunes like "Blues
Connotation", "Lonely Woman" and "Peace" are in the jazz canon. Coleman
was still heavily influenced by blues and bebop, he had that high
pitched bluesy wail in his playing common among Texas based players like
Booker Ervin.

> Coleman solidified his free-jazz ideas at the Hillcrest Club, which closed
> down years ago. Like many famous venues for jazz, there's only a barred
> front door today and no historical marker. (These are the Buena Vista Clubs
> of North America.) The Coleman group's Hillcrest perfromances earned Haden
> a reputation among Hollywood hipsters.

Paul Bley was also  in this group one of the few recording sessions
Ornette did with a pianist.I have a recording of the Hillcrest
performance done in 1958. Fascinating.

> The 1970 classic recording of this band includes
> Civil War tunes "Song Of The United Front and "El Quinto Regimiento (Fifth
> Regiment) as well as "We Shall Overcome" and "Song For Che."

He also wrote a tune called "Chairman Mao" which is on the Cherry/Dewey
Redman (father of Joshua)/Haden/Blackwell _Old and New
Dreams_ record. It utilizes chinese pentatonic (five note) scales.
  Haden  has made a lot of interesting records. With the Liberation
Music Orchestra he did a series of anarchist civil war era songs. He did
an album with Carlos Paredes a portuguese guitarist as well as straight
ahead jazz stuff with Paul Bley (*Memoirs*), Geri Allen (*In the Year of
the Dragon*) and a new album of spirituals and blues with Hank Jones.
There's also a series called the *Montreal Tapes* recorded at the jazz
fest in Montreal featuring duets with Bley, Cherry and Allen.
   Haden was also responsible for bringing the great Cuban pianist
Gonzalo Rubalcaba to international attention at the Montreaux
festival--Rubalcaba was unable to appear in the US because of the
embargo. They've done some great albums together too.


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