Preview: the Charlie Haden London Concerts, May 21st and 22nd

Preview : Charlie Haden at the Barbican May 21st and 22nd
(Also featured as this week’s prize draw for newsletter readers)

Bassist, composer and bandleader Charlie Haden, one of the key figures in the development of jazz in the past half-century, once described the aspiration and the vocation of the artist as having two distict sides:

“to bring beauty to the world and make a difference in this planet.”

The Barbican’s two Charlie Haden concerts in May, presenting the “artist in focus” will bring to the fore each of these sides of Haden’s creative soul during two very different concerts:

The concert on Saturday May 21st will feature Quartet West. Quartet West was founded in 1987, and three of the original four players still form the current group: saxophonist Ernie Watts, pianist Alan Broadbent and Haden himself. Haden moved to California as a nineteen year old in 1957.

The concert is built around Haden’s 2010 album “Sophisticated Ladies,” which alternates vocal numbers and instrumentals. The singers featured in the concert have yet to be fully announced. The BBC’s reviewer wrote that the songs are “a wholly nostalgic surrender to the days of sweetly melancholic relationship-doom.”

Haden knows deeply the Californian cults of beauty, of cinema and of lifestyle, but his vision questions the dream, and recalls these words of Joan Didion:

“California is a place in which a boom mentality and a sense of Chekhovian loss meet in uneasy suspension; in which the mind is troubled by some buried but ineradicable suspicion that things better work here, because here, beneath the immense bleached sky,is where we run out of continent.”

The concert on Sunday May 22nd features a very different aspect of Haden’s reativity. Political song, the yearning for revolution and change dominate the up-to-date 2011 version of the Liberation Music Orchestra, with its Anglo-american personnel.

This group were one of the highlights of Ornette Coleman’s Meltdown at the South Bank Centre in June 2009, when they made their last appearance here with Roberrt Wyatt. Try John Fordham’s 5 star Guardian review.

The Americans in the band include Carla Bley and Tony Malaby, the Brits John Parricelli, Andy Sheppard and Jason Yarde, ad Oren Marshall.

Here’s a clip from 1992:



The Charlie Haden London concerts are produced by Serious, whose previous Barbican “Artist in Focus” series has included Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock.

Categories: miscellaneous

Leave a Reply