Beauty will save the world.
Fyodor Dostoevski in The Idiot
Please some relief from the endless suffering in the Middle East.
We present the life of the recently deceased jazz bassist Charlie Haden, a testament to the power of beauty and the healing ministrations of 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 with The Associated Press shortly before receiving a Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award.
This jazz master made the bass sing in new ways and with different collaborators. A groundbreaker with “free jazz” saxophonist Ornette Coleman in the 50s Haden kept moving. One of his greatest strengths was his deep visceral understanding of humanity’s struggle for liberation,It seemed to suffuse his playing.
His evolution was astounding. He came from a well known background of country music. From the age of two he sang with The Haden Family then was struck with polio which damaged his vocal chords. At 15 he turned to the bass and jazz, his musical world lit up by the seminal Charlie Parker.
Haden never forgot the roots of jazz as a revolutionary art form, a radical identification with people’s struggles. He was ailed for his support of the anti-colonial movements in Portuguese Africa and had no time for The Bush wars. His Liberation Music Orchestra. mixed songs from the Spanish Civil War, antiwar songs and a tribute to Che Guevera. He remounted this band as a protest against the Bush invasion of Iraq. This he called Not in My Name.
In the mid 80s he launched Quartet west with pianist Alan Broadbent.and tenor Ernie Watts. They produced a series of lyrical Be bop albums which owed much to film noir Latterly Haden’s stunning bass lines lit up duet albums with jazz giants Kenny Barron, Pat Metheny and Keith Jarrett.
Charlie Haden lived a life of gratitude.A few years ago he told Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman
I wouldn’t do anything different, except I would seek out as many musicians dedicated to life the way I am and dedicated to beauty the way I am, because it’s not really about categories, like jazz, it’s about beautiful music and playing music from all over the world with other musicians who are dedicated, because it’s up to us to bring beauty back into this world. It’s up to people in the arts, the painters, the writers, the composers, the dance troupes, everybody, the actors, the people who write poetry. You know, it’s up to us to try to make a difference in this world and try to make this planet a better to live for all the human beings and stop the cruelty and the devastation that’s going on, you know, and have a great place.
A few years ago Haden came to the CBC concert place and by an accident I ran into him lugging his bass out to a car. He was a amazingly humble when I thanked him for his profound commitment to the human project.
His final album ironically titled Last Dance was released in June of this year It is a stunning collaboration with the piano colossus Keith Jarrett.