R.I.P. Charlie Haden

Photo: 2010 by Steven Perilloux

Charlie Haden, one of the great jazz bassists, died this morning, at age 76, after a long illness.

I've written here often of Haden's prowess and creativity, most recently a review of Last Dance, his sublime (and—a lovely last treat—commercially successful) duet album with Keith Jarrett. You could find worse ways to spend a Friday night, emptying a nice bottle and listening to this disc and any other Haden albums you might have around (there's hardly a clunker in the catalog).

I will miss watching him play on the bandstand, leaning over his bass, head turned away, eyes closed, immersed in the music, intensively listening to his band mates, and beaming—almost ecstatic—when one of them unleashed a particularly nice riff that he could bounce off.

There will always be the music—he played with everyone from Ornette Coleman to Rickie Lee Jones—and I have a list of my favorites on the obituary that I just wrote for Slate. Dip in anywhere, to mourn his passing but, much more, to celebrate his life and legacy.

Rick Tomaszewicz's picture

...for me. I hear him telling me something funny or sad every time I spin one of his vinyls or CD's. I never met him, so he'll continue to be just as alive as he was yesterday. As a matter of fact, I look forward to getting more recordings and hearing his conversations with fellow musicians in a language I understand, but sadly cannot speak.

TNtransplant's picture

hadn't listened to for awhile and remains an incredibly moving work. Thanks Fred for a fine tribute to a wonderful artist. I also had the pleasure of hearing Haden in numerous settings, but the last was certainly the most unusual: a performance at LA's Walt Disney Concert Hall with members of his family and a bunch of top tier country musicians. The juxtaposition of a "classical" concert space and largely puzzled "jazz" audience listening to bluegrass was priceless -- not quite the response one sees at the Ryman Auditorium as I can attest to now living in Nashville. But I don't recall ever seeing Charlie so happy and it was a musical experience to treasure.

andy_c's picture

Sad day, especially after losing Horace Silver in June. Keep up the good work in the jazz reviewing department Fred! It is appreciated.

TreAdidas's picture

Totally bummed to hear this. I count his record Nocturne among my all time favorite records. I remember discovering this disc by chance when I was in college. Saw it, thought the cover looked cool, bought it on a whim. Ended up buying a few more of his records.

There are indeed worse ways to spend an evening than listening to a Haden record. Sad day.

bdiament's picture

Beautifully written Fred.
Thank you.

Aside from all the recordings in my music library, I have many wonderful memories of those evenings I was fortunate enough to be present at his performances.

Best regards,

volvic's picture

We knew he was ill but still saddened to hear the news, so many great recordings and his last one with Jarret adds even more poignancy to that project. We also lost a great conductor in Lorin Maazel, his Also Sprach Zarathustra recorded with DG in the 80's is a favourite of mine as were a lot of his recordings for the Telarc label in the 70's and 80's, in particular his Tchaikovsky symphonies. Bad week for music lovers.