CHARLIE HADEN AND GAVIN BRYARS - LONDON 1987 (Charlie Haden R.I.P. 1937-2014)

July 13, 2014 – 4:55 pm

CHARLIE HADEN R.I.P. 1937-2014

Charlie Haden, a legendary jazz bassist and original member of the Ornette Coleman Quartet, died on Friday (July 11, 2014) after a prolonged battle with an undisclosed illness, according to his label, ECM. He was 76. Born in Shenandoah, Iowa in 1937 and raised on a farm, Haden helped to revolutionize double bass playing in jazz music as a member of saxophonist Coleman’s free jazz quartet in the late 1950s. A bout with polio at 15 damaged nerves in Haden’s vocal cords and ended his singing career, but he continued to play the bass. Haden also collaborated with artists like John Coltrane, Don Cherry, Alice Coltrane, Billy Higgins, Chet Baker and Pat Metheny, among many others. In 1967, Haden joined pianist Keith Jarrett’s ensemble, becoming a key member of the troupe before forming the band Old and New Dreams with Cherry. Haden also founded the Liberation Music Orchestra in 1969 with composer Carla Bley, which blended experimental jazz with political activism.

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CHARLIE HADEN AND GAVIN BRYARS
London 1987 [no label, 1CD]

Live at the Shaw Theatre, London, UK; April 6, 1987 (circulated as April 26, 1987). Excellent FM broadcast.

Thanks to woessner for sharing the tracks at Dime.

Some notes by Gavin Bryars:

Sub Rosa (1986)
I wrote Sub Rosa for a concert in the Flanders Festival in Belgium in the autumn of 1986. Shortly before that time I had made my first recording with ECM (Three Viennese Dancers) and had been given a number of recordings that ECM had made over the years. Among these was a solo album by Bill Frisell called In Line, which I liked very much. I was particularly fond of the second track, Throughout, which I used to play on headphones during take-off on plane journeys to overcome my fear of flying.

Sub Rosa is an extended paraphrase of and comment on this piece. I made a transcription of Bill’s solo and combined phrases in new ways, added others, altered the harmonic rhythm, and changed the instrumentation to fit that of my ensemble at the time. The room in the art gallery where we played was adjacent to a large circular room which had an astonishingly long reverberation time, and I placed the descant recorder in that off-stage space. Just as the distant recorder (a part now taken by the electric guitar) is generally paired with the clarinet, so the solo violin is initially mixed with the bowed vibraphone giving an equivalent sense of distance.

When Bill Frisell and I met for the first time in Leicester during his British tour we had a meal together at the Curry Fever Restaurant and he listened to the Belgian recording on headphones between courses. “It was,” he said, “like some crazy dream”. Later Bill and I collaborated on a subsequent recording project for ECM (After the Requiem). Sub Rosa is the music for the extraordinary final part of William Forsythe’s Slingerland for the Frankfurt Ballet where he takes the music into a further dreamlike state by having all the dancers move slowly through space supported by fly wires.

The piece is dedicated to Bill Frisell.

By the Vaar (1987)
By the Vaar was written as an extended adagio for the jazz bass player Charlie Haden accompanied by strings, bass clarinet and percussion. It was commissioned by the Camden Festival and first performed there in April 1987 along with a number of other works of mine having a close connection with jazz.

The solo bass part, which begins with fully written material and gradually leads to an extended improvisation, was written with Charlie Haden’s sound in mind. I have known Charlie’s playing since the time when, as a schoolboy in Yorkshire, I heard broadcasts of the extraordinary first recordings of the Ornette Coleman quartet, of which Charlie was a key member and, curiously enough, the other composer featured in that Camden concert was Ornette himself.

When I became a professional bassist working chiefly in jazz and improvised music I knew the individual sounds of most improvising bass-players and Charlie’s sound is a special one that I have heard and loved in many musical contexts. The title of the piece comes from my opera Doctor Ox’s Experiment: the “Vaar” being a river in Flanders, not far from Bruges, which flows through the town in which the action of the opera takes place.

During the opera there is a quiet and almost uneventful interlude where two lovers, Frantz and Suzel, pass the afternoon by the river, the one fishing, the other working on her tapestry. By the Vaar started out as a preliminary sketch for this scene, like a backdrop for the singers, and aspects of the music appear in the final opera. In this concert work, the solo bass plays chiefly in the low and middle registers, exploiting the unique qualities of Charlie’s own bass, with its gut strings and resonant pizzicato notes.

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Lineage:
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Click on the highlighted tracks to download the MP3s (224 kbps). As far as we can ascertain, these tracks have never been officially released on CD.

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Track 01. Sub Rosa [Bryars] 10:31 (17.7MB)
Track 02. Improvisation for Solo Bass (Lonely Woman) [Ornette Coleman] 17:58 (30.2MB)
Track 03. Dedication to Poets and Writers [Coleman] 10:34 (17.7MB)
Track 04. The Sacred Mind of Johnny Dolphin [Coleman] 12:29 (21.0MB)
Track 05. By the Vaar [Bryars] 21:57 (36.9MB)
74 mins

Performers:
Charlie Haden - bass
Gavin Bryars - bass, piano
Alexander Balanescu Quartet
Alexander Balanescu - violin
Clare Connors(?) - second violin
Bill Hawkes(?) - viola
Caroline Dale(?) - cello
Roger Heaton - clarinet
Jamie McCarthy - recorder
Martin Allen - percussion (vibes, marimba, tam-tam, 2 cymbals)
Leslie Howard - piano
unknown - trumpet, bass clarinet

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  1. 3 Responses to “CHARLIE HADEN AND GAVIN BRYARS - LONDON 1987 (Charlie Haden R.I.P. 1937-2014)”

  2. Wonderful stuff! Thanks Big O

    Gavin Bryars was my tutor at college so this is most welcome, my tutor and my favourite jazz bassist!
    The notes by Gavin here are a revelation

    Thanks you!

    By swappers on Jul 14, 2014

  3. Thanks for this one Big O!
    Based on a note about GB Ensemble members at the time of the Almeida Festival at Bryars own website* the clarinetist is Roger Heaton, the recorder is Jamie McCarthy, the percussionist is Martin Allen and the pianist is Leslie Howard. That only seems to leave the trumpet unaccounted for.
    *http://www.gavinbryars.com/Pages/ensemble_r_fr.html

    By alan on Jul 14, 2014

  4. Hello Alan

    Thanks!

    By bigozine2 on Jul 15, 2014

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