Born in Shenandoah, Iowa on August 6, 1937, Charles Edward Haden began his life in music almost immediately, singing on his parents' country & western radio show at the age of 22 months. He started playing bass in his early teens and in 1957, left America's heartland for Los Angeles, where he served as sideman to such legends as Art Pepper, Hampton Hawes, and Dexter Gordon.
He then moved to New York, where he teamed with Ornette Coleman in the saxophonist's pioneering quartet (alongside trumpeter Don Cherry and drummer Billy Higgins). In addition to his still-influential work with Coleman, Haden also collaborated with a number of adventurous jazz giants, including John Coltrane, Archie Shepp, and Keith Jarrett.
An acoustic bassist of extraordinary gifts, Haden's talents have been in constant demand by his fellow artists. As a result, he has collaborated with a genuinely stunning array of musicians, including Hank Jones, Don Cherry, Dewey Redman, Paul Motian, Jack DeJohnette, Michael Brecker, Kenny Barron, and Pat Metheny (with whom Haden shared a 1997 "Best Jazz Instrumental Individual/Small Group" Grammy Award for their Beyond the Missouri Sky)
Throughout his career, which spans more than five decades, Charlie Haden has constantly sought to transcend the boundaries of modern music. Widely considered to be among the greatest-ever jazz bassists, Haden has contributed pivotal music to a stunning scope of genres - avant-garde, small group, big band, world music, folk, and gospel, to name but a few.
"I'm always looking for different combinations of musicians," Haden says. "I try to bring together musicians that can make magic, and I'm usually right. It's not so much the combination as it is the individual and their values. When I find a musician that has the same values as I do, I want to make music with him."
"What I try to do is play all kinds of songs from all different categories," he says. "Songs that I think are very meaningful and beautiful, with beautiful melodies and great chord structures, in order to attract different kinds of listeners and bring more and more people to the art form. Because we need it now more than ever before."
"I want to open jazz up," he continues. "I don't want to keep the audience limited. I want to reach people who have never come to a jazz concert before. One way to do that is by making records that have a lot of different kinds of music on them."