Archives for posts with tag: Charlie Haden Memorial

The line of people stretched down the block in the cold on West 43rd Street in Manhattan for a chance to get inside the Town Hall Theater and say goodbye to the great bassist Charlie Haden. The memorial nearly filled the expansive hall on Tuesday, January 13th, as attendees listened to musical tributes to and–memories of–Haden, many of the latter punctuated by imitations of Haden’s signature warm greeting of “hey, man”.

Haden, 76, died July 11, 2014 in Los Angeles after a long battle with post-polio syndrome. Haden suffered from polio as a child.

Trumpeter Michael Rodriguez started the memorial with a solo trumpet piece titled “going home”.

Ruth Cameron-Haden: Charlie “really did feel a responsibility to bring beauty to the world”

Haden’s widow (and producer on many recordings) Ruth Cameron-Haden provided opening remarks and served as host for the evening in addition to being one of the key organizers. She offered personal reflections of what it was like to live with Charlie. As might be expected for someone widely known as both a jokester and an artist with an intense devotion to honing his musical craft, life with him was a rollercoaster ride. The takeaway, though, and a point stressed in different words throughout the evening, was Cameron-Haden’s recollection that Charlie “really did feel a responsibility to bring beauty to the world” and acted on this through both his music and activism.

Long time collaborator and friend guitarist Pat Metheny took the stage next to play a solo acoustic guitar medley of songs in memory of Haden followed by some personal reflections. Metheny recalled first meeting Haden as a very young musician, already in awe of the latter’s status in music. As an icebreaker, Metheny told Haden that he was from Missouri, too, and they became fast friends. “Charlie and I literally played hundreds and hundreds of concerts all over the world”, Metheny said, recalling collaborations starting with his own groundbreaking and critically acclaimed 80/81 release and Song X, which featured sax innovator Ornette Coleman. Metheny recalled that he and Haden “could play anything together from the most out stuff to harmonic stuff to songs of the most complete simplicity”, but pointed out that their relationship went way beyond music, despite their 17-year age difference.

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Coleman was not feeling well enough to attend, but wanted to express his support and sent his son, drummer Denardo Coleman, in his place. Denardo remembered being on one of his father’s recording sessions at the tender age of 10 years old and how Haden welcomed him, mentored him, and made him feel accepted as a musician.

Bassist Putter Smith: “He was a rascal. A very charming rascal, but he could charm anybody out of anything, including me”.

Bassist Putter Smith recalled getting calls from Haden at the last minute to fill in for his classes at the California Institute for the Arts, where Haden helped found the jazz program and taught for decades. “He was a rascal,” Smith said, “a very charming rascal, but he could charm anybody out of anything, including me”. What Haden brought to bass playing “was the permission to play with a very charming intimacy”, Smith added.

Saxophonist Lee Konitz and pianist Brad Mehldau joined together for a bluesy duo. “We haven’t figured out what to play [yet],” Konitz admitted, “so we’ll just figure it out as we go along”, which they did after a minor hiccup and did spectacularly well. Mehldau then went to the microphone and remembered Haden as a spiritual mentor in addition to he musical lessons he gave. Mehldau recalled one story Haden told him to end a discussion that had erupted over the role of drugs in music and the popular lore that drugs acted as a creative muse. Haden, Mehldau recalled, adamantly insisted that some of the musical greats who struggled with drug addiction and died young such as Charlie Parker and Jimi Hendrix achieved what they did despite their addiction, not because of it. “Imagine what they would have achieved if they’d gotten clean”, Haden pointed out. Mehldau’s recollection was but one of many in the evening stressing Haden’s humanity.

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Saxophonist Ravi Coltrane, pianist Geri Allen, and harpist Brandee Younger took the stage to perform “For Turiya”, Haden’s tribute to Alice Coltrane.

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Dr. Maurice Jackson, Associate Professor of History at Georgetown University remembered Haden’s principled and uncompromising stand against racism and his solidarity as an ally to Black people.

Dr. Maurice Jackson

Dr. Maurice Jackson

Tenor saxophonist Joshua Redman, drummer Jack DeJohnette, bassist Scott Colley, and pianist Kenny Barron performed as a quartet. Colley was Haden’s first student at CalArts.

After performing, Redman recalled learning about his father, saxophonist Dewey Redman, through their common musical relationship with Haden. Redman recalled not knowing his father very well, but getting to understand him and learn much more about him through the elder Redman’s music and with his own interaction with Haden, whom both had played with.

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Haden’s children closed the program with “Voice From On High” And “Oh Shenandoah” accompanied by guitarist Bill Frisell and bassist Mark Fain. Haden’s daughters–Tanya, Rahcel, and Petra–perform as The Haden Triplets and his son Josh Haden plays the bass.

Josh Fain (b), The Haden Triplets, Josh Haden (obscured), Bill Frisell (guitar, obscured)

Josh Fain (b), The Haden Triplets, Josh Haden (obscured), Bill Frisell (guitar, obscured)

Bassist Scott Colley returned to the stage for one last number with Quartet West, Haden’s group on the west coast with pianist Alan Broadbent, tenor saxophonist Ernie Watts, and drummer Rodney Green. They formed, Ruth Cameron-Haden recalled, from Charlie’s complaint that there was “no one to play with in Los Angeles” until she reminded him of some of the musicians living there whose playing he liked.

(L-R): Alan Broadbent, Scott Colley, Ernie Watts

(L-R): Alan Broadbent, Scott Colley, Ernie Watts

The evening was closed, appropriately enough, with members from Haden's Liberation Music Orchestra, who played "Amazing Grace", "Silence", and closed the program with "We Shall Overcome". It was a fitting way to end a night in the memory of someone who struggled so long and cared so deeply for nearly everyone whose life he touched in one way or another.

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Photo Credit: Hank Williams (all photos). Creative Commons licensed (non-commercial, some rights reserved.)

For a more in-depth look at Haden, see Joyce Jones’s extensive 2011 interview of Charlie and Ruth on Suga’ in My Bowl.

The Haden family asks for donations to be sent to the CalArts Scholarship fund that assists needy students in the music program that he helped found. Donations can be made online here (Select the “Charlie Haden Scholarship Fund” under the “Gift Allocation” menu.) Checks can be mailed to The Charlie Haden CalArts Scholarship Fund / P.O. Box 520/ Agoura Hills CA 91376.

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Hank Williams is an associate producer for Suga’ in My Bowl on WBAI Radio and webmaster for the Suga’ and Behind the Mic sites. He is also a PhD candidate in English and Africana Studies at the CUNY Graduate Center and teaches at Hunter and Lehman Colleges and The City College of New York. Follow him on Twitter: @streetgriot


bandstand_picPhoto Credit: Hank Williams

Suga in My Bowl radio presents a new weekly feature, On The Bandstand where we collect upcoming NYC area shows from current and past Suga’ guests.

Program note: Suga’ in My Bowl has changed to a biweekly schedule on WBAI Radio and now alternates Sunday nights with Sports Qualified at our usual 11 PM -1 AM time period. You’ll get the same great show; just every other week! So mark your calendars or just keep up with us via our Facebook page, the blog here, or our main website and we’ll keep track of the schedule for you.

This week’s show features an interview with pianist Geri Allen done by special guest co-host Columbia University’s Dr. Farah Jasmine Griffin. See her this week at the memorial for bassist Charlie Haden (details below). This (nearly) wraps up our coverage on the 2015 Winter Jazz Fest. Check back later this week for a review and scroll down the page for our cheat sheet and preview of the festival. And we have other live music this week.

There will be a memorial for the late saxophonist Will Connell on the 12th at The Jazz Church, St. Peter’s. Saxophonist Oliver Lake, multi-instrumentalist Charles Gayle, and trombonist Craig Harris will be just a few of the many artists performing appearing at the memorial. You are all cordially invited ….

The big news is a memorial and celebration of the life of the late bassist Charlie Haden; at the Town Hall on January 13th with Ruth Cameron-Haden, Pat Metheny, Brandee Younger, low bass specialist Joe Daley, pianist Geri Allen, and many more. Admission is free, but organizers will take donations for the Haden CalArts Scholarship fund to help music students. They also recommend arriving early, since space is limited and it will start and end on time.

It’s the very last call for reservations to see vocalist Catherine Russell and master drummer Michael Carvin at Mohonk Mountain House’s Jazz on the Mountain from January 16-19th.

Pianist Marc Cary returns to the Cell Theatre with his Focus trio on January 17th.

Dr. Leonard Jeffries will have a birthday celebration on the 18th at Harlem’s National Black Theater from 4-9 PM. Admission’s free, but be prepared to make a donation. Call 201-837-1355 for details and or see the event’s poster (opens as a photo) on Facebook.

Pianist Vijay Iyer has a residency at The Stone from January 20-25th with various guests sitting in each night. Legendary bassist Reggie Workman joins him on the 20th and 25th.


The Arts for Art organization (promoters of the annual Vision Fest) will have an artist response to the Black Lives Matter movement from the 23rd to 30th at Clemente Soto Velez Center on the Lower East Side. Dancer Patricia Nicholson Parker will be among the many artists and performers there.

Pianist Onaje Allen Gumbs is at Sista’s Place in Brooklyn on the 24th.

Harpist Brandee Younger is at Minton’s in Harlem on the 25th.

Looking ahead, you have a rare opportunity to catch multi-instrumentalist Charles Gayle on saxophone, bass, and piano with guitarist Marc Ribot at The Stone on January 28th.

Also on the 28th, keyboardist John Medeski is at the Village Vanguard.

Finally, looking even further ahead, saxophonist Pharoah Sanders will be at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Dizzy’s Club from January 29th to February 1st.

That’s all for now. Suga’ in My Bowl is back on WBAI next week, January 11th. We’ll have another edition of “On the Bandstand” on air and online next Sunday with a fresh set of listings.

Hank Williams is an associate producer for Suga’ in My Bowl on WBAI Radio and webmaster for the Suga’ and Behind the Mic sites. He is also a PhD candidate in English and Africana Studies at the CUNY Graduate Center and teaches at Hunter and Lehman Colleges and The City College of New York.

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