Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Charlie Haden Tribute on Bass Channel

Charlie Haden, one of the greatest bassists in jazz history, passed away at the age of 76 on Friday, July 11. He will be remembered for generations as an unmistakably warm presence on some of the most influential jazz recordings of all time.

To commemorate Haden's awe-inspring musical legacy, we are featuring his music on AccuJazz's Bass channel. Listeners will hear Haden's playing from dozens of historic recordings, including albums he made as a leader and with important collaborators like Ornette Coleman, Keith Jarrett, Pat Metheny, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Paul Bley and more. The tracks are interspersed with others on AccuJazz's diverse bass-centric channel, featuring the playing of other great bassists from throughout jazz history, such as Ray Brown, Charles Mingus, Dave Holland, Avishai Cohen, Christian McBride, Marcus Miller, Esperanza Spalding and many more.

Listening to Haden's playing on so many different albums over the past week, I've been struck with what a consistently strong impression he makes, no matter the musical situation. Whether it's a seemingly simple, straight-ahead standard, like his performances on two recent duo albums with Keith Jarrett, or an all-out free jazz aural assault with Ornette Coleman, like those on the Science Fiction sessions, the warmth, depth and assertiveness of Haden's bass come through loud and clear.

Haden's individual, earthy tone owes itself partially to his background as a country musician, having played with his locally-famous family band as a child in his home state of Iowa. Haden has said that he sees a "natural convergence" between country and jazz, two musics borne out of struggle and hardship. He likewise found inspiration in the songs of the Spanish Civil War, and used that music as a basis for his innovative and influential Liberation Music Orchestra, a big band that recorded Haden's politically-charged music on a number of albums from the '60s through the 2000s.

Below is some fine Haden-related reading that has popped up online since his passing. I'd recommend you press play on AccuJazz's Bass channel and get to reading:

New York Times obituary
Dozens of musicians' reflections compiled by Ethan Iverson at Do the Math
Carla Bley's brief remembrance at NewMusicBox
Keith Jarrett's tribute, posted on Peter Hum's
Hank Shteamer obituary at Dark Forces Swing Blind Punches
Peter Hum of the Ottawa Citizens lists his favorite Haden recordings

Friday, January 3, 2014

Ring in the new year with the best jazz of last year!

Happy New Year! We at AccuJazz genuinely hope your 2013 was a good one, and that you're optimistic for an even better 2014. No matter what you did to ring in the new year (your AccuJazz program director/occasional blogger celebrated by playing a gig with these guys, opening for this guy -- it was fun), we suggest starting off 2014 on the right foot by listening back to the best jazz of 2013. We at AccuJazz are here to help, with our Best Jazz of 2013 channel. The channel's programming is based on the results of Francis Davis' definitive jazz critics poll, which was hosted this year by NPR Music.

This annual poll, which used to be hosted by the Village Voice, tends to be topped either by elder statesmen or Vijay Iyer. Going along with that tradition, greatest-living-jazz-composer Wayne Shorter won this year's honors with Without a Net, a live document of his long-running quartet with pianist Danilo Perez, bassist Jon Pattitucci and drummer Brian Blade. You could call them an "event band": any time they get together to play a concert, headline a jazz festival, or, ever-so-rarely, put out a recording, it's an event, and every ear in the jazz world turns to listen. Without a Net seems to have lived up to the hype for most jazz critics, though many, including Davis, weren't quite won over.

Besides Shorter, many other critics' favorites are present, Craig Taborn, Steve Coleman, Tim Berne and Dave Douglas among them. Newer names also made impressive showings: young singer Cecile McLorin Salvant came in at #4 with her disciplined-but-thrilling WomanChild, and drummer Jaimeo Brown's debut album, Transcendence, won the 27th spot. You can check out the complete results of the poll here and read Davis' analysis here. The AccuJazz channel is playing most of the albums on the list, with programming determined by placement on the list -- i.e., you are more likely to hear Shorter than Mostly Other People Do the Killing, whose loud and fun Slippery Rock! placed 46th.

Happy listening, and watch out for my own list and channel soon. I like to be fashionably late to these things.