Sunday Night Jazz Showcase
Program #195 (January 28 at 8:00 p.m.)
As a member of saxophonist Ornette Coleman's early bands, bassist Charlie Haden became known as one of free jazz's founding fathers. Haden never settled into any of jazz's many stylistic niches, however. Certainly he played his share of dissonant music -- in the '60 and '70s, as a sideman with Coleman and Keith Jarrett, and as a leader of the Liberation Music Orchestra, for instance -- but for the most part, he seemed drawn to consonance.
Haden's childhood was musical. His family was a self-contained country & western act along the lines of the more famous Carter Family, with whom they were friends. They played revival meetings and county fairs in the Midwest and, in the late '30s, had their own radio show that was broadcast twice daily from a 50,000-watt station in Shenandoah, Iowa (Haden's birthplace).
Haden debuted on the family program at the tender age of 22 months after his mother noticed him humming along to her lullabies. The family later moved to Springfield, Missouri, and began a show there. Haden sang with the family group until contracting polio at the age of 15. The disease weakened the nerves in his face and throat, thereby ending his singing career.
In 1955, Haden played bass on a network television show produced in Springfield, hosted by the popular country singer Red Foley. Haden moved to Los Angeles and by 1957 he'd begun playing jazz with pianists Elmo Hope and Hampton Hawes and saxophonist Art Pepper.
In the '90s, his primary performing unit became the bop-oriented Quartet West, with tenor saxophonist Ernie Watts, pianist Alan Broadbent, and drummer Larance Marable.
Haden suffered declining health as the 2010s progressed, experiencing the effects of post-polio syndrome, which left him in a weakened condition and precluded performing and recording dates. Charlie Haden died in Los Angeles in July of 2014; he was 76 years old. In September, Impulse! issued his historic 1990 Montreal Jazz Festival duet concert with guitarist Jim Hall.
(provided by Allmusic)