Death / Music
Ornette Coleman Bassist, Free-Jazz Catalyst Charlie Haden, 1937-2014
by Dave Segal
on Fri, Jul 11, 2014 at 3:43 PM
The hugely gifted bassist Charlie Haden, who played a key role in Ornette Coleman's pioneering free-jazz groups and had a long, fruitful run with pianist Keith Jarrett in the '60s and '70s, has died after a prolonged illness. He was 76.
Besides his involvement with Coleman and Jarrett, Haden is probably best known for his 1969 album, Liberation Music Orchestra, a potently moving jazz-folk work with pronounced left-wing leanings. But two of my favorite Haden performances can be found on tracks by saxophonist Joe Henderson ("Earth") and trumpeter Don Cherry ("Brown Rice") [see clips for both after the jump]. On these pieces, Haden displayed a staunch and supple funkiness that really propels these two soul-jazz classics. Beyond all of this, Haden contributed his sumptuously melodic bass lines to recordings with a vast range of great musicians, including John and Alice Coltrane, Archie Shepp, John McLaughlin, Carla Bley, Alan Shorter, Ginger Baker, and Pat Metheny.