When Charlie Haden passed from the scene in July of 2014, I was looking all over the archive for something that would be a representation of what Charlie Haden was all about. I can’t believe I skipped right past this one and missed it the first time around. But since we are such uncertain and potentially tumultuous times, it seems like the timing, almost four years later, is perfect to run one of the concerts from this legendary artist’s career.
Couple of important and well-worth reading side-notes on Charlie Haden, via his Wikipedia page:
While he did not identify himself with a specific religious orientation, Haden was interested in spirituality, especially in association with music. He felt it was his duty, and the duty of the artist, to bring beauty to the world, to make this world a better place. He encouraged his students to find their own unique musical voice and bring it to their instrument. He also encouraged his students to be in the present moment: “there’s no yesterday or tomorrow, there’s only right now”, he explained. In order to find this state, and ultimately to find one’s spiritual self, Haden urged one to aspire to have humility, and respect for beauty; to be thankful for the ability to make music, and to give back to the world with the music they create. He claimed that music taught him this process of exchange, so he taught it to his students in return. Music, Haden believed, also teaches incredibly valuable lessons about life: “I learned at a very young age that music teaches you about life. When you’re in the midst of improvisation, there is no yesterday and no tomorrow—there is just the moment that you are in. In that beautiful moment, you experience your true insignificance to the rest of the universe. It is then, and only then, that you can experience your true significance.”
Haden also viewed jazz as the “music of rebellion” and felt it was his responsibility and mission to challenge the world through music, and through artistic risks that expressed his own individual artistic vision. He believed that all music originates from the same place, and because of this, he resisted the tendency to divide music into categories. He was democratic in his tastes and musical partners, and was interested in musical collaboration with individuals who shared his sensibilities in music and life. His music (specifically the music he created with the LMO), was based on the music of peoples struggling for freedom from oppression. Haden spoke to this in reference to his 2002 album American Dreams, stating: “I always dreamed of a world without cruelty and greed, of a humanity with the same creative brilliance of our solar system, of an America worthy of the dreams of Martin Luther King, and the majesty of the Statue of Liberty…This music is dedicated to those who still dream of a society with compassion, deep creative intelligence, and a respect for the preciousness of life—for our children, and for our future.”
Jazz as “Music Of Rebellion” – I don’t want to forget that – and that pretty much sums up the music of this concert.
Not that I’m asking you to grab a gas-mask and lead a demonstration, I am asking you to take a listen and be inspired, maybe not to protest but to lead by example of how you want to see the world. Fair ’nuff?