“No other instrument in jazz is more essential than the bass, both backbone and heartbeat, and Haden is its master.” (Francis Davis /August, 2000 issue of The Atlantic Monthly)
Time Magazine has hailed jazz legend Charlie Haden as “one of the most restless, gifted, and intrepid players in all of jazz.” Haden's career which has spanned more than fifty years has encompassed such genres as free jazz, Portuguese fado and vintage country — the last of which is featured on his latest album, Rambling Boy — not to mention a consistently revolving roster of sidemen and bandleaders that reads like a list from some imaginary jazz hall of fame.
Born in Shenandoah, Iowa in August 1937, Charlie Haden began his life in music almost immediately, singing on his parents’ country & western radio show at the tender age of 22 months. He started playing bass in his early teens and in 1956 left America’s heartland for Los Angeles, where he met and played with such legends as Art Pepper, Hampton Hawes, Dexter Gordon and Paul Bley.
In 1957, Haden met Ornette Coleman to form the saxophonist’s pioneering quartet with trumpeter Don Cherry and drummer Billy Higgins. As an original member of this ground-breaking Ornette Coleman Quartet that turned the jazz world on its head , Haden...” revolutionized the harmonic concept of bass playing in jazz. His ability to create serendipitous harmonies by improvising melodic responses to Coleman’s fee-form solos (rather than sticking to predetermined harmonies) was both radical and mesmerizing. His virtuosity lies…in an incredible ability to make the double bass ‘sound out’ and Haden cultivates the instrument’s gravity as no one else in jazz. He is a master of simplicity which is one of the most difficult things to achieve.” (Author Joachim Berendt in The Jazz Book)
Haden played a vital role in this revolutionary new approach, evolving a way of playing that sometimes complemented the soloist and sometimes moved independently. In this respect, as did bassists Jimmy Blanton and Charles Mingus, Haden helped liberate the bassist from a strictly accompanying role to becoming a more direct participant in group improvisation.
In addition to his hugely influential work with Ornette Coleman, Don Cherry, Billy Higgins, Ed Blackwell and Dewey Redman, throughout the ‘60s, and 70’s, Haden subsequently collaborated with a number of adventurous jazz giants, including John Coltrane, Alice Coltrane, Archie Shepp, Chet Baker and Joe Henderson.