December 18, 2014
Jazz bass innovator Haden dies
NEW YORK — Bassist Charlie Haden, who helped change the shape of jazz more than a half-century ago as a member of Ornette Coleman’s groundbreaking quartet and liberated the bass from its traditional rhythm section role, died on Friday. He was 76.
Haden’s career was marked by the triumph of beauty over suffering. He turned to the bass after losing his singing voice to polio as a teenager when he was performing with the Haden Family country band.
The onset of post-polio syndrome in late 2010 forced him to stop performing publicly, though he played at home to his favourite recordings as well as with visiting musician friends such as guitarist Pat Metheny and pianist Alan Broadbent.
During his career, Haden’s lyrical bass playing could be heard in a broad range of musical genres, ranging from jazz to country to world music.
“I want to take people away from the ugliness and sadness around us every day and bring beautiful, deep music to as many people as I can,” Haden said in a 2013 interview shortly before receiving a Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award.
That recognition — as well as being named a Jazz Master in 2012 by the National Endowment for the Arts — was a far cry from the reception Haden received in the late 1950s as a member of Coleman’s revolutionary quartet.
His world music recordings included sessions with Brazilian guitarist Egberto Gismonti, Portuguese guitarist Carlos Paredes and Argentine bandoneon player Dino Saluzzi.
Last month, ECM released Last Dance from the same 2007 duet session with pianist Keith Jarrett that produced the Grammy-nominated 2010 CD Jasmine. These recordings reflecting their shared love for standard ballads reunited the pair for the first time since working together in Jarrett’s 1970s US Quartet.
Herald with AP