Charlie Haden helped change how the bass is played

The Artistry of… Charlie Haden

Bass… The word defines depth and a richness of vastness. A way down there and grounded support. A foundation upon which greatness is built. The stalwart of the rhythm section, it’s the roots, and establishes and commands where harmony grows.

It’s not often enough presented as an out-in-front element or a leader or melody maker. The late Charlie Haden was one of many who changed the perspective, like so many who continue to do so today. The tone of the Haden bass is instantly about warmth and lyricism. It has the deep rich and thickness of sound — words used so often to describe the bass voice. Haden believed the bass was much more: not just an instrument of accompaniment, but an equal partner in the improvisation conversation in performance and creativity.

His stance while playing presented an image of an artist consumed by the very making of the music, a oneness with the instrument and a full enjoyment of the music and sound that resulted. Charlie Haden physically played as close to his bass as his music making played to heart and soul.


The Artistry of… airs Wednesday evenings on Dinner Jazz with John Devenish.


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