Charlie Haden, Double Bass, 1937-2014

The announcement none of us wanted to hear came early this afternoon from Tina Pelikan of ECM Records.Charlie Haden

It is with deep sorrow that we announce that Charlie Haden, born August 6, 1937 in Shenandoah, Iowa, passed away today at 10:11 Pacific time in Los Angeles after a prolonged illness. Ruth Cameron, his wife of 30 years, and his children Josh Haden, Tanya Haden, Rachel Haden and Petra Haden were all by his side.

Every note Charlie Haden played came from conviction. His sincerity and commitment affected every musician with whom he worked. He used the insistency and quiet power of his music to express his beliefs. He did not compromise.

The first of two pieces in remembrance of Haden is by his beloved Quartet West. The second is from one of his albums with pianist Hank Jones.

For an obituary, go here. Charlie Haden, RIP

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  1. Syd says

    I just purchased Charlie’s “Always Say Goodbye” CD just a few weeks ago. I loved his music so much.

  2. André Growald says

    What a loss ! Jazz and music will never be the same :(
    He brought me so many moments of joy, I’ll really miss him !

  3. Rob D says

    Man,,this one hurts..Charlie was the bassist of record on so many of my fave LP’s. I watched the documentary on him called “Rambling Boy” (2009) recently and thought it was pretty great. I especially enjoyed his stories of meeting Ornette for the first time and walking into his music room that had music absolutely everywhere. Also some great scenes of Charlie backing up his daughters who sing country/Americana style music.

    Keith Jarrett is shown playing some duets with Haden and embracing him heartedly afterwards…He says that people think there are piles of great bassists around who can make the scene, but he clearly thinks and believes that Haden has a sixth sense of where the music is going and perhaps where it SHOULD go and he’s quite willing to show the way.

    Still absorbing this one..I’m absolutely shocked…like losing an old friend and when I think about it…he was…RIP…too many wonderful artists leaving this earth lately (Horace Silver)

  4. Frank Roellinger says

    My condolences to Charlie’s family and all who were close to him. I hope that these thoughts mean something to them; they probably won’t mean much to anyone else.

    I never saw Charlie play in person nor had the occasion to meet him, but there was something about the way he approached music, and life, that greatly affected me. I suppose that it was his sincerity, which shone brightly in everything that he did. I felt that he and I would have had a lot to discuss, if for some unimaginable reason he ever might have had the time and inclination. I once read that he applied to Oberlin College and was accepted but never attended; that probably had something to do with it as Oberlin is my home town, where my jazz “education” began. I just looked at some Google Maps street views of Shenandoah, IA and could see some similarities between the two towns (allowing for the passing of about 65 years).

    I am sure that many people all over the world share your sense of loss. But our lives were and are enriched by what we knew about Charlie and heard in his music. I’ll be thinking about him often for a long time.

    • George Ziskind says

      I first met Charlie Haden in rehab in 1959. Sam Rivers and I were jamming on Donna Lee. Ballistic tempo,
      My pal in the county clerk’s office had told me that Charlie Haden had checked in the previous day. I had been reading about Ornette Coleman’s band in Nat Hentoff’s excellent new magazine “Jazz Review.” Never having seen a photo of Charlie, I (stupidly, now that I think about it) assumed he was African American.
      From the corner of our eyes Sam and I saw that wreck of a bass—already near death—get picked up from the floor of that auditorium by a skinny white kid. Suddenly the tempo firmed up, resounded, sang and actually approached swinging. Of course, it was Charlie playing.

      I never heard him play like that again!

      Nate Chinen, in today;s NYTimes obit, summarized my feelings perfectly: “His approach to harmony was deeply intuitive and sometimes deceivingly simple, always with a firm relationship to a piece’s chordal root.“

  5. Mike Davis says

    I’ve just been playing the tracks from “As long as there’s music” with Charlie and Hamp Hawes, an album I’ve long treasured as one of the very finest jazz duets recorded in the mid 1970s, towards the end of Hawes’ life. It is a treasure store of lyrical and harmonic riches. Recommended unreservedly for those in need of a source of gentle, but intensely beautiful contemplative listening..