Charlie Haden, pioneering jazz bassist, dies at 76

Champion of free jazz, who worked with John Coltrane and Chet Baker, dies after suffering from post-polio syndrome

Charlie Haden, the jazz bassist whose work across genres brought a variety of innovative work, has died in Los Angeles at the age of 76.

Haden’s wife of 30 years, singer Ruth Cameron, and his four children were with Haden when he died after a prolonged illness, his label said. All of Haden’s children — Josh, and triplets Petra, Tanya and Rachel Haden — are musicians.

Haden had been struggling with the effects of post-polio syndrome in recent years, which arose from his contracting the disease as a young man.

Charlie Haden was born in Iowa on August 6, 1937, the youngest of four children in a musical family that recorded a country musical radio program on which Haden would regularly appear.

He sang with the family until he was 15, when he contracted a form of polio that damaged his throat muscles and vocal cords, after which he pursued his interest in the double bass, influenced by both jazz and classical styles as well as the country music of his youth.

He travelled to Los Angeles in 1957 where he attended Westlake College of Music and began some of the collaborations, including those with Ornette Coleman, which would come to define his career. His work on Coleman’s pioneering releases including 1959 album ‘The Shape of Jazz to Come’ brought international attention and further collaborations with a range of musicians throughout the 1960s. Haden would come to work as a sideman for musicians as diverse as Yoko Ono, Dizzy Gillespie, Robert Downey Jr, Beck and John and Alice Coltrane.

Haden performing with guitarist Pat Metheny, with whom he won one of three Grammys. Source: Getty Images He helped form the Liberation Music Orchestra in 1969 —releasing a self-titled album whose references would capture the politically-charged feel of the time — with Ornette coleman alumni trumpeter Don Cherry and Dewey Redman as well as a selection of other legendary free jazz musicians. His work in that group came to cement his reputation as one of the creators of free jazz and began an explicitly political approach that would run through all of his work.

In the 1980s, Haden helped found a jazz program at the California Institute of the Arts, arising from his belief that jazz music could be a force for political good. That decade also saw the beginning of 1940s inspired outfit Quartet West, formed with saxophonist Ernie Watts, pianist Alan Broadbent and drummer Larance Marable.

Haden always resisted labelling his music by genre, and returned to his country roots with 2008’s ‘Rambling Boy’, an album recorded partly in tribute to his parents and featuring appearances from his immediate family and famous friends from across the country and pop music worlds. That album included work by guitarist Pat Metheny, a collaboration that also brought ‘Beyond the Missouri Sky’ in 1997, an album that won one of three of Haden’s Grammys.

Haden performs with Rodney Green during rehearsals for the Quartet West in Madrid. Source: REUTERS/Andrea Comas Last month saw the release of Haden’s latest album ‘Last Dance’, which was recorded in 2007, with regular collaborator and pianist Keith Jarrett. The recordings came from the same sessions that produced the duo’s 2010 album, ‘Jasmine’, and was the final release from a pairing that came together in 1967.

Posthumous releases are expected, including a concert recording made in 1990 with guitarist Jim Hall who died last year.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £45,000

£18000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive is required t...

Recruitment Genius: Test Development Engineer

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you inspired to bring new a...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Motor Engineer

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Technical Administrator

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company are a world leadin...

Day In a Page

On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral