Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Bassist Charlie Haden Returns to His Country Roots on New CD

Bassist Charlie Haden got his start performing traditional Americana songs on radio stations with his family in the late 1930s when he was just 2 years old-decades later, Haden’s career has come full circle.

Haden’s upcoming release, Ocean of Diamonds, includes traditional songs, ballads as well as original compositions of the Haden family in a folk-country style not unlike what he performed as a child.

Set to be released on Sept. 23 on Decca Records, the record features Haden’s frequent collaborator jazz guitarist Pat Metheny, as well as guest musicians and contributing artists Bela Fleck, Elvis Costello, Vince Gill, Bruce Hornsby, Ricky Skaggs, Roseanne Cash, Dan Tyminski, Jerry Douglas and Sam Bush.

Haden’s four children-son Josh and triplet daughters Petra, Tanya and Rachel-sing lead and backup vocals on numerous tracks. Haden’s son-in-law, actor/musician Jack Black, also contributes to the family affair, singing lead vocals on the traditional “Old Joe Clark.”

The album was co-produced by Haden’s wife, Ruth Cameron.

In his decades-long career, Haden has worked with musicians spanning eras and genres-artists from John Coltrane and Keith Jarrett to Beck and Ringo Starr. Haden, age 70, got his start performing American folk and country songs for popular radio stations like WSM in Nashville and KWTO in Springfield, MO, back in the late 1930s.

The jazz bassist reached critical success as an original member of the Ornette Coleman Quartet in the 1950s. Haden also played bass with Keith Jarrett, alongside Paul Motian and Dewey Redman, from 1967 to 1976.

Since 1986, Haden has been playing and recording with Quartet West-with saxophonist Ernie Watts, pianist Alan Broadbent and drummer Larance Marable.

Haden has also been heavily involved as leader of the politically and socially minded Liberation Music Orchestra-a free jazz, experimental collective with a revolving open lineup-since its conception in the 1970s. Alongside the orchestra’s composer and arranger Carla Bley, Haden’s most recent work with LMO was their fourth record, 2005’s Not in Our Name.

Originally Published