Charlie Haden

Charles Edward Haden (August 6, 1937 – July 11, 2014) was an American jazz double bass player, bandleader, composer and educator whose career spanned more than 50 years. Building on the work of his predecessor bassists Jimmy Blanton and Charles Mingus, Haden revolutionized the harmonic concept of bass playing in jazz, evolving a way of playing that sometimes complemented the soloist, and sometimes moved independently, to help liberate bass players from a strictly accompanying role, to becoming more direct participants in group improvisation.

In the late 1950s, he was an original member of the ground-breaking Ornette Coleman Quartet. In 1969, he formed his first band, the Liberation Music Orchestra, featuring arrangements by pianist Carla Bley. In the late 1960s, he became a member of pianist Keith Jarrett's trio, quartet and quintet. In the 1980s, he formed his band, Quartet West. Haden also often recorded and performed in a duo setting, with musicians including guitarist Pat Metheny and pianists Hank Jones and Kenny Barron.

German musicologist Joachim-Ernst Berendt wrote that Haden's "ability to create serendipitous harmonies by improvising melodic responses to Coleman's free-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'. Haden cultivated 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."

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