Thursday, April 30, 2009

Charlie Haden and Politics

The Politics of Charlie Haden and its Effect on his Music



Charlie Haden is a strong force in the musical world today, and has been for over forty years.  Politically, he has been a voice for the voiceless from around the world, South Africa, South America, Portugal, Spain, and most recently Iraq.  Haden voices his concerns with few words, while choosing music as his outlet for protest.  The music he plays sometimes comes from these political situations abroad, whether it’s simple native folk tunes, or songs of rebellion and battle.  If one were to take a focused listening of his recordings you would be able to hear the wails of the oppressed, friction, and people actively pursuing change.  Through Charlie Haden’s music, one continues to hear the sound of political turmoil, which is soon replaced with music of beauty, as an example of the hope he has for brighter days ahead.

Charlie Haden was born in 1937 to a musical family, the Haden Family Band, a semi professional group that sang at the Grand Ol’ Opry, as well as singing regularly on the radio.  Charlie Haden’s singing career started early on, after his mother noticed while singing nursery rhymes to get him to fall asleep that he would improvise harmony along with it.  He started singing in the family band at age two, and continued until the age of fifteen, when a case of mild polio altered his voice, so that he could no longer control the pitch or vibrato of it.  He started playing his brothers’ double bass and at the age of twenty moved to Los Angeles.  While in L.A. he started playing with jazz musicians such as Art Pepper, Hampton Hawes, Paul Bley, and Ornette Coleman.  Playing with Coleman led him to NYC, and the infamous five spot gig with the Ornette Coleman quartet. 


To get back to politics, Charlie Haden says this about his childhood experiences:

“I was raised in a place that forced you into political awareness early on, and was seeing racism all around me.  In the county where I graduated high school, blacks weren’t allowed to remain in the there after dark- this was 1955.  There was only one movie theatre they could go to, and they had to sit in the third balcony.” [1]


Ornette Coleman, in the liner notes to the record The Golden Number has the following to say about Charlie Haden’s politics:

“We met on the in L.A. and from there he came on the road as my bassist.  Charlie Haden’s music has its roots in Viva la humans.  It is not capitalistic, communistic or socialistic.  His music does no dictate.”  [2]


In another interview Charlie Haden has this to say this about his connection of music and politics:

“It’s difficult for jazz to be accepted in the United States even though that’s its historical music.  Jazz in the United States is also a political art form, even if some of the musicians are not realizing this.  The musicians feel a responsibility to communicate deep values to people as much as they can and show them what is important.  It’s up to the people who have dedicated their lives to an art form, to deep values, to turn this value system around, and to allow people to touch the deeper parts inside themselves, to discover that they can see and have the ability to appreciate deeper things that are important, and that’s why jazz, I feel, is a political music.”[3]


            Charlie Haden’s main political ensemble outlet was a band known as the Liberation Music Orchestra.  The trademark piece for the group, especially on the first album, was an original tune written by Haden, titled “Song for Che.” The piece was written as Charlie Haden’s dedication to Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara, after the CIA assassinated him. On “Song for Che” there is a juxtaposition of the live music that the Liberation Music Orchestra is playing along with overdubbed tape music of “Hasta Siempre” composed and sung by Carlos Puebla, recorded by Barbara Dane.  The overdub happens at the end of Charlie Haden’s solo, while he’s doing flamenco style strumming on the double bass, and works musically as an interlude to Don Cherry’s solo on tin whistles.  The tape piece itself, “Hasta Siempre,” became iconic for glorying Che Guevara and his role as a revolutionary, and with the title “Until Always” as it translates from Spanish to English, implies one will never again see the person saluted.  The chorus is the only part of the tape that is heard on “Song for Che,” and as it translates from English says:

            The deep (or beloved) transparency of your presence became clear here,
Commandante Che Guevara.”


             Charlie Haden has a tendency in his recordings, to use live music, mixed with pre-recorded music that is very important to him politically, as a vehicle for improvisation.  With giving some introductory material on the music, Charlie Haden has this to say about the reasons concerning the band forming in the first place:

“This was after Nixon bombed Cambodia, and I was sitting in my car outside of a little club on Lexington and 39th street called the “Lost and Found,” I was playing there that night.  I heard about the bombing and I went home and called Carla.”  [4]


In another interview Haden says:

“I went home and listened to music from an album I had of anti-fascist songs from the Spanish Civil War in 1937.  I also had Hansel Eisler’s “Song of the united front.”  I had recently seen the documentary about the Spanish Civil War, “To die in Madrid” by Frederic Rossif.  So I started thinking of getting a group of improvisers who could be inspired by the songs.  I wanted to make a record to voice my concerns. “ [5]


In a response from the tuba player Howard Johnson, a musician that played on the first Liberation Music Orchestra album, he says:

“It had occurred to Charlie that there had always been songs that accompanied political and social movements.  The more radical, the better the songs.  Some were downright militant, marching almost.  Others more poetic and sensitive.  All of it pretty soulful.” [6]


Charlie Haden talking about the music says:

“Carla wrote the arrangements, we got the orchestra together and we played the music live in front of the veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, a group of Americans who had fought in the Spanish Civil War, and their wives.”  [7]


This was important because of multiple tunes on the album such as “Song of the United Front,” “El Quinto Regiemento,” “Los Quarto Generales,” and “Viva la Quice Brigada,” which were all from the Spanish Civil War.  On the album they were used as protest materials against Nixon and the war in Vietnam and bombings of Cambodia.  The next two Liberation Music Orchestra records would also feature music from the Spanish Civil War.

Howard Johnson also had this to say about the musicians in this tumultuous time:

“Everyone’s political views in those days tended to be driven by how far they had developed and therefore very personal.  The unifying force was that people even had a political consciousness.  We all felt it was important to get somewhere with our views.  That was the whole idea among musicians of being “hip” and not going for the bullshit being promoted back in the 1930s.”[8]


Another important composition on the record is the piece “Circus 68, 69”, which Charlie Haden says in the liner notes to album:

“The idea for “Circus 68, 69’” came to me one night while watching the Democratic National Convention on television in the summer of 1968.  After the minority plank on Vietnam was defeated in a vote taken on the convention floor, the California and New York delegates spontaneously began to sing, “We Shall Overcome” in protest.  Unable to gain control of the floor, the rostrum instructed the convention orchestra to drown out the singing.  “You’re a grand old flag” and “Happy days are here again,” could then be heard trying to stifle we shall overcome.  To me, this told the story, in music, of what was happening in our country politically.  Thus, in “Circus” we divided the orchestra into two separate bands in an attempt to recreate what happened on the convention floor.” [9]


This is a perfect example of Haden’s politically derived music, and how it is composed and performed to specifically document a historical scene in its time.  Upon hearing the recording, the listener is struck with an Ives-ian sound of two bands competing against each other, vying for which band can be louder and rowdier in the musical material presented.  After the Circus two band sound dies down, you hear a recapitulation of the Circus theme, as a quiet dirge, that blends into the last piece on the record, “We Shall Overcome.” 

When Haden tried to publish his project he was met with resistance by the music industry of that time, and talking about his experiences says this:

“Everyone I approached turned me down once they found out what it was about.  I went to Bob Thiele, who got me a 500 dollar advance to record it, but when he delivered it to Impulse, the people there read the liner notes and said it was too left wing to release.  I happened to be going to L.A. on a trip, so I met with an exec at ABC/Impulse and managed to convince him.” [10]


Once the album was released it received a Grammy nomination that year, which helped bring free jazz into the main stream, both as a style of music, and as a new format for the Big Band/Large Ensemble.[11]

Charlie Haden was political in some of his performing outside of the Liberation Music Orchestra, a few years after the first LMO recording, when Charlie Haden was touring Europe with Ornette Coleman. 

“I made the dedication on the stage to the black people’s liberation movement in Mozambique and Angola and pandemonium was immediate.  There was screaming, cheering, almost like a riot broke out.  You couldn’t hear the song that we were playing.  We played one of my compositions, “Song for Che,” with Ornette Coleman.  It was the first jazz festival to be held in Portugal, and it was held in a hockey stadium in Cascais.”[12]


Later on in the same video interview he goes on to say:

“We finished the set and immediately were escorted to the dressing room, which was underneath.  And on the passageway to the dressing room, and there was a lot of commotion and they escorted me to a very small car, with all these PIDE policemen sitting in the car with me.  We drove to the PIDE prison, they put me in a room for about three hours by myself and then interrogated me, and I said, “What are you talking about?”  The truth of the matter is Mr. Haden you shouldn’t mix politics with music.[13]


            Charlie Haden did not follow the advice of the PIDE office and not long after his arrest, he went into the studio to record a duets record, and in a duet with Paul Motian, he made a tribute to this experience titled, “For a Free Portugal.”  In this piece Haden superimposes two tapes, the first being the live dedication that got him arrested, and the second a recording made in Angola by the Liberation Support Movement.  The LSM was an organization formed in 1967 to provide information and material for liberation movements in Africa, and the Middle East.  Portions of the tape include the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola’s National Anthem, as well as battle sounds of an attack on a Portuguese barrack of Karipande in the Moxico district of eastern Angola by the liberation group.  The voice that is heard on the last part of the tape is Hoji ia Henda, the head of the movement’s military commission, who was killed in the attack on April 14th 1968, which is now the date commemorating Angola Youth Day. 

            In 1978, after hearing a recommendation through a friend, Charlie Haden met and played with Carlos Paredes, a Portuguese lutist, at the Jazz Hot Club. Despite the fact that neither of them spoke a word of each other’s respective language, were able to jam long into the night.  In their meeting, Haden felt a deeper connection with Paredes.  Carlos Paredes, whether Haden knew it or not at the time had been a member of the communist party and spent over ten years in solitary confinement for his political beliefs.  The two of them went on to record a duet album, titled Dialogues.  In the liner notes, it again brings up the fact that they didn’t speak any of each other’s languages, and did not use any sheet music for the entire record.[14]  On the album, they play Charlie Haden’s “Song for Che” and you can hear Charlie Haden play the melody solo in the beginning and start to improvise over the tune.  When Carlos Paredes comes in, he brings his own melodies to the piece, and Haden bridges the gap between play the form of the tune and the new form that Paredes plays.  This is reminiscent of the way Haden played with Ornette Coleman, in expanding the form, while keeping the composition intact.

On the second Liberation Music Orchestra album, “The Ballad of the Fallen,” Charlie Haden and Carla Bley focus politically on Ronald Reagan and South America.  All of the Liberation Music Orchestra’s records were made during a Republican administration.  The liner notes tell a dark tale of the involvement of the United States government in South America, specifically focusing on Reagan and El Salvador:

“The record is titled The Ballad of the Fallen, from an El Salvador Protest Song.  The poem, according to the liner notes was found on the body of a student who was killed when the United States backed National Guard of El Salvador massacred a sit-in at the University in San Salvador.”[15]


Another part of the liner notes depicts a painting done by Celia, a Salvador Refugee in the Manuel Franco Refugee Center in Managua Nicaragua.  The painting has an inscription in Spanish, which translated means:

 “No to U.S. intervention, Yankee invader out of El Salvador. Our only crime is that we are poor – We are tired of so many bullets sent by Ronald Reagan.”  [16]


In an interview with Charlie Haden that was conducted around the time this second Liberation Music Orchestra record was released.  Haden says:

            “I’m not a politician.  I’m a human being trying to learn about this life, and I’m a musician.  But I want to play this music, to find music from different parts of the world that has to do with people fighting for their right to live freely.  The music that comes from that struggle should be heard by as many people as possible.  That music also inspires people to play their best, and I want to be able to inform people in a real way about what’s happening in the world, the struggle in El Salvador, in Chile, in Nicaragua.  We sit here in the United States and watch it on television and lose touch with the reality and I feel a responsibility to communicate my feelings in an honest way to as many people as I can, and if I can change just one person’s outlook, then I feel like I’ve accomplished something.”  He goes onto say how Reagan is a figurehead and an actor, and uses those abilities to convince Americans to go for the invasion of Grenada, the contras in Nicaragua, and the death squads in El Salvador.[17]


As Charlie Haden goes on to say:

“The material from Spain and Latin America was so packed with its own meanings and passions that the soloists were inspired to surpass themselves.”[18]


            As for the music on the album there are several Spanish Civil War tunes, songs of revolution, and battles.  One of the original pieces, “La Pasionaria” was written in dedication to Dolores Ibarruri, who inspired the soldiers in the Spanish Republic to fight fascism with the slogan “No Pasaran,” or as it translates into English, “They shall not pass.”  A politically important Portuguese song is recorded on the record titled “Grandola Vilia Morena.”  The tune was played on Portuguese radio to signal the young enlisted army officers to revolt against the fascist Portuguese government in 1974.  This is another great example of the depth of music that the Liberation Music Orchestra played, and having musicians’ like Charlie Haden, Paul Motian and Don Cherry interpreting it guarantees an intense realization of these pieces. [19]

      This second Liberation Music Orchestra album Ballad of the Fallen went on to win the Downbeat Critic Poll for record of the year.

The following album came in the late eighties titled “Dreamkeeper” and focused on South Africa while protesting George Bush Sr. In the liner notes Charlie Haden says:

“The existence of apartheid in South Africa and the continuing genocide of the black south African people by the white racist government is an assault against humanity.  In order to voice a protest against this injustice I chose The African national congress anthem, as a new song for the orchestra to play.  In 1985 I invited Dr. Victor Mashabela from the New York ANC to come to hear the LMO perform the song in concert and obtained his permission to record it.  Continuing in the LMO tradition, I superimposed an original tape of a South African choir singing the ANC anthem under Dewey Redman’s solo.”[20]


            On the record, mid-way through Dewey’s solo, the listener hears the faint background of this humble choir singing for their rights to be human beings, while Dewey wails and moans overtop of the music.

            The title of the record Dreamkeeper comes from a selection of poetry by Langston Hughes, describing Hughes’ point of view on racism in society.  Charlie Haden took the opportunity to tribute these poems, but writing a suite of music with Carla Bley about it.  In the suite, Carla Bley’s music fades in and out between folk tunes from El Salvador, Venezuela, as well as a piece from the Spanish Civil War titled “Hymn of the Anarchist Women’s Movement.”  To continue with the theme of battling racism the album ends on an original tune by Charlie Haden, arranged by Carla Bley titled “Spiritual,” and was written in tribute to Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and Medgar Evers.  Spiritual is a gospel tinged piece that is reminiscent of the black churches in the south, and features emotive solos by Ray Anderson, Branford Marsalis, Charlie Haden and Amina Claudine Myers.[21]

            Another non-Liberation Music recording that is very important to displaying Charlie Haden’s political music is the record American Dreams featuring Michael Brecker.  In a Downbeat interview Charlie Haden says the following about the recording:

“I wrote in the liner notes to my Album American Dreams with Michael Brecker, that 9/11 didn’t have to happen if this country had been doing what it was supposed to do and being seen the way it should be seen around the world.” [22]


On the track, “America the Beautiful,” from the album, Alan Broadbent wrote the string arrangements.  Alan Broadbent was the piano player in Charlie Haden’s west coast group the “Quartet West.”  The album American Dreams was recorded in 2002 after 9/11, and so the arrangement of the patriotic tune is on the smoother consonant side.  The music on this record represents Haden’s need to play beautiful music that shows the greatness of American and it’s innovations, instead of protesting politically.

The next Liberation Music Orchestra record was titled “Not in our Name,” and also has a version of  “American the Beautiful.” The LMO version was arranged in 2005 by Carla Bley, and was conceptualized after Bush was re-elected in 2004.  This version adds more dissonance and off-color harmonizations, especially in comparison to the Charlie Haden recording in 2002.

When asked about why the music is “softer and less galvanizing:” Carla Bley responded: “We set out to use American themes on this album.  Perhaps that’s why critics don’t think it’s as fiery.  It doesn’t have the physical energy of the Spanish tinge like on the other albums.  What do you do to American the beautiful?  It’s hard to move that along.  So there’s tongue in cheek in the stating of the theme and a bit of distortion.  In fact, when the guys in the band play it now, they compete with each other to try to make a bigger mess out of it.  It’s hilarious!”  [23]


Charlie Haden says that the idea for the title for the most recent Liberation Music Orchestra record came from a European he was doing with Pat Metheny:

“We were playing a lot of concerts and I noticed when we were walking around in Spain and Italy especially people had these banners unfurled from their balconies that said “Not in our Name.”  I thought, ‘Man, it’s so great that they’re doing that, why don’t they do that in the United States.’  I guess that was the beginning of when I started thinking about doing something.”[24]


And in an interview segment on her arranging for the Liberation Music Orchestra Carla Bley says:

 “I didn’t know how to write for the first Liberation Music Orchestra  as well as I can today.  That was quite primitive writing…Maybe it means that knowledge means more order and order seems less like chaos, because chaos might seem more like rebellion.  I can’t rebel against anything right now.  I’m just taking the pieces and making them sound good so all the dead composers don’t roll over in their graves.”  [25]


Carla Bley also has this to say about some of the arrangements for the newest Liberation Music Orchestra record:

“When I put in Barber’s Adagio for strings, people should remember that that’s the music that was played on nightline when they recited all the names of the soldiers who died in Iraq.  It was also used in the movie “Platoon.”   It represents the sadness of people dying for political reasons.  Dvorak’s Largo is in the 1948 film The Snake Pit, featuring Olivia de Havilland.  She plays a character that is in a home for the mentally ill.  At the end all the residents sing this song.  Both pieces represent people who have no hope.”  [26]


 “I spent seven months writing these arrangements, Charlie is the one that told me the songs that he wanted to do.  I would say either yes or no.  I chose the ones that were more American; we’re doing things like “American the Beautiful,” a piece by Pat Metheny called “This is not America,”  “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” and “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” even “Adagio” by Samuel Barber from the string quartet number five.  It’s all by American composers, but it’s all sort of sad music.  If it isn’t sad, I make it sound a little bit different than you’re used to hearing it.  There’s some notes in there that are my own notes; sour notes, mean notes, and out of tune notes.  We’re sort of fooling around with the music, not playing it.  It’s not patriotic, that’s what I mean, it’s anti-patriotic, it’s complaining about the United States, how embarrassed we are, and how we’re trying to change it.”  [27]


Steve Cardenas told me in my email interview that:

“So, I suppose one could say it’s more of a statement of saying one could be patriotic without having to agree to the constricting points of view of the previous administration.”[28]


Charlie Haden on the concept of the improvisations, as mentioned earlier in reference to the second Liberation Music Orchestra album:


 “I think if you listen to the improvisation, you’ll hear some strong feelings about what we’re playing, and why we’re playing it.”[29]


On the Spanish Civil War pieces and the El Salvador folk songs from the album, Ballad of the Fallen, there is an extra depth that the musicians soloing take.  The solo becomes less about making changes, or getting the tune “hot,” and more about bringing the music to an extra spiritual and political level, having a deeper resonance with the audience.  On the most recent record I believe it is Tony Malaby that brings this idea to the forefront, just like Dewey Redman did in the 1970s and 1980s.  On the unreleased European concert video I have, Tony Malaby takes a solo on the Bill Frisell piece “Throughout” and rightfully demonstrates a musical solo that sounds like the anguish of protest music.  [30]He starts with a simple motif, repeats the idea while ascending in pitch five times.   On the last motivic repeat, he wails on a solitary high note, and starts distorting his sound.  Not long after he’s back to playing folk melodies, which become simple ideas to help the tension.  The real sound of the protest is the heavy quarter note downbeats he gives, giving the listener the impression of a march.  This builds into a very chromatic build, one note at a time, that starts slowly and ends on a high lonesome note, the sound of the sole individual and what they can accomplish.

            Speaking of the accomplishments of the individuals, Charlie Haden in interview has this to say about if he thinks the music can affect change:

“All recordings attempt to do that.  It doesn’t matter if you’re playing “Body and Soul” or “The People United Will Never be Defeated.”  Jazz has always been an art form of struggle.  It’s a political struggle to get the music heard.  Whether it’s my new album, or the Liberation Music Orchestra tour, we’re trying to change the direction this country and this administration is going.  It’s not like the CD is going to change the election.  But voicing my concerns is vital.  That’s what I tried to do on the first three Liberation Music Orchestra records.  Voicing my concerns about Vietnam, El Salvador, everything that was happening during the first Bush’s administration that always ended up sending our country into a tragic direction.”[31]


In an email interview with Matt Wilson, the drummer for the most recent line up of the Liberation Music Orchestra, he has some enlightening follow-up to some of Haden’s comments:

“I think music can make a change just by the opportunity for folks to escape and bond as a community…  I feel that music brings together those folks for the enjoyment of music so that alone makes it an extraordinary event…  I think jazz played well together as a band represents the pinnacle of democracy though.  Folks with freedom working together for a common cause.  That is American no matter what party you belong to.  I belong to the expressionist party!”[32]


And Howard Johnson, the tuba player from the 1969 Liberation Music Orchestra further comments on what he thinks the music can affect:

            “But it is hoped that all the work I do will take a place in the audience that makes it easy for them to open and look at everything a few steps father that they have already come.  In that way, a medium tempo blues in Bb can be a very potent political statement.”[33]


            All three musicians make valid points.  On the unreleased 2004 video, Carla Bley mentions how Charlie fully and completely thinks that music can change the world.[34]  Matt Wilson and Howard Johnson seem to be speaking more strongly of any music to be a catalyst for change, just simply by bringing people to the music via recordings or concerts, and showing them that beauty that is in the world.  Charlie Haden, in an interview from 1984 has this to say about leaders around the world, and how they could be affected by the music:

            “If the leaders of the governments of the world were able to hear – I know this is very idealistic – if they were able to hear the beauty of the slow movement of Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony, or Ravel, or Strauss’ “Four Last Songs,” or Billie Holiday, Django, Charlie Parker, Bill Evans, Ornette Coleman…if they could really hear the beauty…  Sometimes I think about hearing music through someone else’s ears and it frightens me – if someone wanted to torture me they could me to hear music through Ronald Reagan’s ears.  He must be tone deaf!  If the people who run the governments of the world could touch that brilliance inside themselves, and know that it’s in everyone else and everywhere else, the world just couldn’t go on the same way, the way it’s going now.”[35]


            One of Charlie Haden’s goals with his music is to show people a more beautiful world, and a more beautiful America, by playing the pieces he plays the way he plays them.  By bringing in outside political influences, he is able to add depth and resonance to the compositions performed, and as he has said, this helps give the improviser more context to play even better than they normally would.  Hearing Dewey Redman playing the “National Anthem of the South African Congress,” or Carlos Paredes playing “Song for Che,” are both great examples of taking something that’s close to your heart, and letting music speak in place of words. 

            Haden has continued to be a political force since early on in his career, through the Liberation Music Orchestra, Ornette’s bands, duo recordings with a multitude of artists, and his collaborations with composer/arranger Carla Bley.  He was able to unite many musicians together, as well as going so far to unite an audience together in Portugal, even at his own risk of harm and/or imprisonment.  It is a musical blessing that is somewhat bittersweet to hear the Liberation Music Orchestra re-united in 2005, but also a political commentary on what Charlie Haden is thinking about the world today.  As he has said, “As for George W Bush, this is the worst yet.”[36] Coming from someone that has lived through Vietnam, it is rather telling and embarrassing for our country to be where it is today, but comforting knowing that there are musical watchdogs out there, to keep a beacon of hope and letting us know that throughout the struggle the beauty is there.  The beauty is in the music, and if we can all focus on that, the world will unite, and become the place Charlie Haden envisions it to be. 



Annotated Bibliography

Bangs, Lester.  “Charlie Haden: Liberation Music Orchestra.”  Mainlines, Blood Feasts, and Bad Taste.  New York, Anchor books, a division of Random House, Inc.  1970, 35-36.

            This is a general overview by a critic for Rolling Stones on Charlie Haden and the Liberation Music Orchestra.

Coleman, Ornette.  Notes to Charlie Haden, The Golden Number.  LP, Horizon SP-727, 1977.

            The liner notes were written by several authors but specifically Ornette’s section of the notes talk about Charlie Haden.  His words about Haden: “His music has its roots in Viva la humans.  It is not Capitalistic, Communistic or Socialistic.  His music does not dictate.” 

Goodman, Amy.  Jazz Legend Charlie Haden on His Life, His Music and His Politics.” 2006; accessed March 6th 2009.

            Interview on Democracy now that was originally on the radio, and archived on Democracy Now’s website.  The interview goes in a lot of directions with his political activism, getting arrested in Portugal, and the Liberation Music Orchestra.  He talks about other musicians that were politically active, inviting war veterans to his concerts, and his most recent incarnation of the LMO.

Gross, Terry.  “Lift Everything Up: Charlie Haden.”  All I Did Was Ask.  New York: Hyperion, 2004, 37-44.

            Two radio interviews for NPR done by Terry Gross on Charlie Haden.  In the interview she talks mostly about his childhood in the Haden Family Band, and his singing before playing bass.  Terry Gross influences him the first interview to later record himself singing on an album later in the year.

Haden, Charlie.  “Charlie Haden.”

            This a lengthy interview from the Ken Burn Jazz documentary website, accessed by PBS.  The interview goes over a length of subjects, on jazz, influences, Ornette Coleman, the Liberation Music Orchestra.  It is a very in depth and valuable resource concerning the background of the musician.



Haden, Charlie.  Liberation Music Orchestra: Live in Montreal [1992].  DVD, Image Entertainment B00005TNFS, 2002.

            This is a DVD performance of the Dreamkeeper version of the Liberation Music Orchestra.  On the DVD Charlie Haden introduced the songs and gives some political background on whether it’s a tribute to South Africans fighting Apartheid, or Latin music coming from areas affected by the CIA and Regan’s administration. 

Haden, Charlie.  Portugal 1991.  DVD, unreleased

            Invaluable performance and interview footage on Charlie Haden and his Portugal arrest.  Also good information on his collaboration with Lutist Carlos Paredes.

Haden, Charlie.  Liberation Music Orchestra 2004.  DVD, unreleased.

            This contains performance and interview footage from a 2004 European concert that the Liberation Music Orchestra performed.  The interview segments are especially helpful in deciphering the reason for the ensemble to get back together.

Haden, Charlie.  Notes to Charlie Haden with Michael Brecker, American Dreams. CD, Verve Records 064096, 2002.

            Charlie Haden’s liner notes in this recording discuss the greatness of America and American music, and bring up the innovations of the country.  The record was made directly after 9-11, and he references in these notes that the tragedy did not have to occur if America had been doing what it should have been doing, and that we are better than that.  The music reflects these sentiments, beautiful string arrangements written by American composers for the sake of beautiful music.

Haden, Charlie.  Charlie Haden with Carlos Parades, Dialogues.  CD, Polygram Records, 849309.

            Sparse liner notes, but the audio is valuable, especially in the Charlie Haden piece, “Song for Che” and this particular version of it.

Haden, Charlie.  Notes to Liberation Music Orchestra, Dreamkeeper.  CD, Blue Note Records 95474, 1991.

            Charlie Haden’s notes on this album from during George Bush’s 1988-1992 presidency reflect on the situations going on in Africa as well as South America, especially El Salvador.  He takes on both of these musical and political situations and gives them both justice, while adding some jazz and gospel musical influence on the album.  

Haden, Charlie.  Notes to Charlie Haden, Liberation Music Orchestra.  LP, Impulse Records AS-91831, 1969.

            Charlie Haden’s liner notes to his first Liberation Music Orchestra record, talking about the need to do something musical about the current political situation.  The music is influenced by Spanish civil war tunes, Che Guevara, and the Democratic National Convention.

Haden, Charlie.  Notes to Charlie Haden, The Ballad of the Fallen.  LP, ECM Records 23794, 1982.

            On the notes for this Liberation Music Orchestra release, Charlie Haden has a variety of political influences in the music.  On this album there is music referencing the CIA’s involvement in Chile, Spanish civil war, Portuguese freedom movement, and El Salvador.  This album was made a result of the Regan Administration. 

Haden, Charlie.  Notes to Charlie Haden, Closeness.  LP, Horizon Records SP-710, 1976.

            Charlie Haden writes his own notes to this album of duets.  One of the tracks he mentions is For a Free Portugal, dedicated to the Portuguese people, and Charlie’s own time in Portugal in which he was arrested for political incitement.  That specific track is duet between Charlie and drummer Paul Motian featuring pre-recorded music from an LP titled Africa in Revolutionary Music. 

Haden, Charlie and Ruth Cameron.  Notes to Liberation Music Orchestra, Not In Our Name.  CD, Verve Records B0004949-02, 2005.

            Charlie Haden and his wife’s combined liner notes his most recent Liberation Music Orchestra album.  This album is a tribute to the America, who doesn’t see the current 2000-2008 administration as a representation of our values, and is a message that we need to take the power back.

Iverson, Ethan.  “Interview with Charlie Haden.”  Downbeat, January 2008. 

            Jazz pianist Ethan Iverson, who recently started performing with Charlie Haden, interviews him for Downbeat.  Ethan asks a multitude of questions about Ornette Coleman, other bass players, and some about the Liberation Music Orchestra.  In the article Charlie mentions the first album was dedicated to Vietnam, Ballad of the Fallen to South America, Dream Keeper to Africa, and Not in our name as a protest for the current administration. 

Jeske, Lee.  “Liberation Music Orchestra, The Public Theatre.”  Downbeat, March 1983.

            This is a bad review of a live European concert with the LMO, right after their second album came out.  I understand it to mean the critic was writing with narrow jazz ears, describing things as “not getting hot enough” or saying the solos are too long.  It seems the critic misses the point with the band. 

Leigh, Bill.  Bass Notes: Charlie Haden - On an Artist's Responsibility.”  Bass Player, September 2005.

            Charlie Haden is interviewed for a teaching segment in bass player magazine.  He describes to students, how they can express themselves socially and politically through their music, while citing his own bands like the LMO.

Mandel, Howard.  Notes to Gonzalo Rubalcaba, The Blessing.  CD, Blue Note Records 7 97197 2, 1991.

            These notes talk about an album with Charlie Haden and longtime musical collaborator Gonzalo Rubalcaba, who is from Cuba.  In these notes, Mr. Mandel discusses Gonzalo’s political situation between the U.S. and Cuba, which does not allow him much freedom, especially to tour and play internationally.

Martin, Marvin.  “Charlie Haden.”  Extraordinary People in Jazz.  New York, Children’s Press, a division of Scholastic Inc., 2004, 214-216.

            Short article written on Charlie Haden that provides information on how the first LMO record was almost banned, and was grammy nominated.   It brings to light the second LMO record, and how in the year it was released it won Downbeat’s critic poll for record of the year.

Milkowski, Bill. “Liberated music: Charlie Haden revives his politically charged big band.”  JazzTimes, November 2005.

            Charlie Haden review from well known jazz critic Bill Milkowski, with the current 2005 LMO.  In it they discuss George Bush, his 2004 re-election and the Iraq war, among his new musicians in the band.  There is mention of the band playing election night and how sad they were with the results.

Ouellette, Dan.  Haden Explores American Song on LMO Disc.”  Billboard, September 3 2005. 

            Charlie Haden’s recent incarnation of the Liberation Music Orchestra is reviewed and discussed.  The article mentions the use of more Mexican composers in the ensemble, and how each of the four incarnations of the LMO formed during a republican administration.

Ouellette, Dan.  “Haden: We Play for Peace.” Down Beat, November 2004.

            This is an article that interviews Charlie Haden about the Liberation Music Orchestra, and their most recent record.  In it, he talks about how George W. Bush is the worst president he’s faced yet with the LMO, and that the world had been going fine until his tenure in office.  He reinforces the idea of the record, Not in our Name, was to play music by American composers, and highlight the fact that one can be patriotic and disagree with the government.

Ouellette, Dan.  “Maybe We Should Take Machine Guns out and Shoot Everyone in the Audience: Charlie Haden and Carla Bley Take the Offensive with the Liberation Music Orchestra.” Down Beat, January 2006.

            Charlie Haden and Carla Bley talk about the first LMO group forming during the Vietnam War, and how the band is doing now after thirty years.  There is more mentioned of the current administration and the disappointment over Bush’s reelection in 2004, and the scandal of his election in 2000. 

Zabor, Rafi. “Charlie Haden.”  Jazz Musician. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1994, 73-95.

            This is an interview with Charlie Haden from a book of a collection of interviews with jazz musicians.  In the interview, Charlie Haden talks about the Liberation Music Orchestra playing music from oppressed countries around the world and more of his left wing political views. 




[1] Rafi Zabor. “Charlie Haden.”  Jazz Musician. (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1994), 76-77.

[2] Ornette Coleman.  Notes to Charlie Haden, The Golden Number.  LP, Horizon SP-727, 1977.

[3] Charlie Haden, interview on jazz and politics, Portugal 1991.  DVD, unreleased.

[4] Amy Goodman.  Jazz Legend Charlie Haden on His Life, His Music and His Politics.” (2006), accessed March 6th 2009.

[5] Dan Ouellette.  “Maybe We Should Take Machine Guns out and Shoot Everyone in the Audience: Charlie Haden and Carla Bley Take the Offensive with the Liberation Music Orchestra.” Down Beat, January 2006.

[6] Howard Johnson, personal email, 11 April 2009.

[7] Dan Ouellette.  “Maybe We Should Take Machine Guns out and Shoot Everyone in the Audience: Charlie Haden and Carla Bley Take the Offensive with the Liberation Music Orchestra.” Down Beat, January 2006.

[8] Howard Johnson, Personal email, 11 April 2009.

[9] Charlie Haden.  Notes to Charlie Haden, Liberation Music Orchestra.  LP, Impulse Records AS-91831, 1969.

[10] Dan Ouellette.  “Maybe We Should Take Machine Guns out and Shoot Everyone in the Audience: Charlie Haden and Carla Bley Take the Offensive with the Liberation Music Orchestra.” Down Beat, January 2006.

[11] Marvin Martin.  “Charlie Haden.”  Extraordinary People in Jazz.  New York, Children’s Press, a division of Scholastic Inc., 2004, 214-216.


[12] Charlie Haden, interview on jazz and politics, Portugal 1991.  DVD, unreleased.


[13] Charlie Haden, interview on jazz and politics, Portugal 1991.  DVD, unreleased.


[14] Charlie Haden.  Charlie Haden with Carlos Parades, Dialogues.  CD, Polygram Records, 849309.

[15] Charlie Haden.  Notes to Charlie Haden, The Ballad of the Fallen.  LP, ECM Records 23794, 1982.

[16] Charlie Haden.  Notes to Charlie Haden, The Ballad of the Fallen.  LP, ECM Records 23794, 1982.

[17] Rafi Zabor. “Charlie Haden.”  Jazz Musician. (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1994)

[18] Rafi Zabor. “Charlie Haden.”  Jazz Musician. (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1994)

[19] Charlie Haden.  Notes to Charlie Haden, The Ballad of the Fallen.  LP, ECM Records 23794, 1982.

[20] Charlie Haden.  Notes to Liberation Music Orchestra, Dreamkeeper.  CD, Blue Note Records 95474, 1991.

[21] Charlie Haden.  Notes to Liberation Music Orchestra, Dreamkeeper.  CD, Blue Note Records 95474, 1991.

[22] Dan Ouellette.  “Haden: We Play for Peace.” Down Beat, November 2004.


[23] Dan Ouellette.  “Maybe We Should Take Machine Guns out and Shoot Everyone in the Audience: Charlie Haden and Carla Bley Take the Offensive with the Liberation Music Orchestra.” Down Beat, January 2006.

[24] Amy Goodman.  Jazz Legend Charlie Haden on His Life, His Music and His Politics.” (2006), accessed March 6th 2009.

[25] Dan Ouellette.  “Maybe We Should Take Machine Guns out and Shoot Everyone in the Audience: Charlie Haden and Carla Bley Take the Offensive with the Liberation Music Orchestra.” Down Beat, January 2006.

[26] Dan Ouellette.  “Maybe We Should Take Machine Guns out and Shoot Everyone in the Audience: Charlie Haden and Carla Bley Take the Offensive with the Liberation Music Orchestra.” Down Beat, January 2006.

[27] Charlie Haden.  Liberation Music Orchestra 2004.  DVD, unreleased.


[28] Steve Cardenas, Personal email, 11 April 2009.

[29] Amy Goodman.  Jazz Legend Charlie Haden on His Life, His Music and His Politics.” (2006), accessed March 6th 2009.

[30] Charlie Haden.  Liberation Music Orchestra 2004.  DVD, unreleased.


[31] Dan Ouellette.  “Haden: We Play for Peace.” Down Beat, November 2004.

[32] Matt Wilson, Personal email, 11 April 2009.

[33] Howard Johnson, Personal email, 11 April 2009.

[34] Charlie Haden.  Liberation Music Orchestra 2004.  DVD, unreleased.

[35] Rafi Zabor. “Charlie Haden.”  Jazz Musician. (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1994)

[36] Dan Ouellette.  “Haden: We Play for Peace.” Down Beat, November 2004.