Bassist and Free Jazz Pioneer Charlie Haden Has Left the Planet

On July 11th, at the age of 76, Charlie Haden passed away. Described by Time magazine as “one of the most restless, gifted and intrepid players in all of jazz,” Haden left his mark on hundreds of records as both a member and a leader. He was the anchor of the Ornette Coleman Quartet and helped define The Shape of Jazz to Come. In recent years he struggled with the degenerative effects of post-polio syndrome, and up until 2010 he was still in the studio and performing live. A month before his passing ECM released Last Dance, a set of informal songs between Haden and Keith Jarrett recorded at Jarrett’s Cavelight home studio in 2007.

While Haden is known as one of the most significant bassists in jazz, his influences and recordings touch on many musics, from classical to his own country, spiritual, and bluegrass roots. His early music roots culminate on his 2008 recording Rambling Boy, an album that features his immediate family, all of whom follow his musical path. His music and art will live on and continue to inspire others. As Haden once said, “We’re here to bring beauty to the world and make a difference on this planet. That’s what art forms are about.”

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