As a teen I would spend hours on end reading different articles in Bass Player Magazine. I was spending more time playing regularly just in the neighborhood with a few others. Others who would be doing the same thing some evenings. Sitting in their rooms listening to music and reading the publication of their chosen instrument.
Much of what I was playing was rock and metal. Metal is the very core of my musical background. It is still the music I enjoy listening to the most.
Bass Player Magazine opened my mind to putting names and faces to musicians of different genres. While I always liked hearing the occasional jazz piece on CBC Radio, I never thought much to put names to the musicians. I was playing electric bass guitar and had hoped to branch into playing upright eventually. Through Bass Player Magazine I began to read about upright players who would become influences. Charles Mingus, Christian MacBride, Eberhard Weber, just to name a few. Then there was Charlie Haden. Haden recently passed away last week. His life and career are being celebrated by the bass community and the music community in general.
While I no longer have a copy of the interview I remember it so very well just from the photo header and some of the things that were written. The cover page was Haden relaxing in a chair reading something. Reading his thoughts on music and life were fascinating. Before I would even hear him play I figured out that this was an incredible talent who was a key figure in the change of direction for the instrument.
It was not too long after reading this interview that I found a concert of his group “Quartet West” on a Bravo Television edition of the Montreal Jazz Festival. The concert was a terrific display of musicianship and creativity. Haden’s phrasing and tone became easily recognizable. Over the years I was able to obtain a few of his recordings on Compact Disc. Worth mentioning is his masterpiece duet record with guitarist Pat Metheny “Beyond The Missouri Sky”. This record is a marvelous display of bass and guitar with minimal extra accompaniment set against the backdrop themes of living and growing up in the mid-western U.S.
The opening track “Waltz For Ruth” (written by Haden for his wife Ruth Cameron), is something worthy of being called a standard. This piece remains one of my favourite compositions to this day. The melody was something I would start to just play as part of warm up exercises and just jamming at home. Literally almost every time I pick up a bass, I end up playing the melody from this track. It is a song that I have wanted to record just with 2 basses. My electric upright for the bass line and perhaps a six-string bass guitar to play the main melody.
It is time to dig out this record and the Quartet West CD’s again. I owe it to myself to seek out and find some earlier recordings of his work. Especially with the Liberation Music Orchestra and Ornette Coleman.
I encourage others to do the same.