Photo: Charlie Haden and Carla Bley.
The next show will air on Sunday, January 8, 2017 from 11:00 PM – 1:00 AM Monday Eastern Standard Time on WBAI, 99.5 FM in the NYC metro area or streaming online at wbai.org. This broadcast concludes WBAI’s coverage of the 2017 Winter Jazz Festival. Our focus is the Liberation Music Orchestra, founded by late bassist Charlie Haden that is closing out the 2017 WJF. Featured guests are multi instrumentalist Joe Daley and Ruth Cameron: Haden’s widow, longtime manager and producer of several of Haden’s albums.
Synonymous with the legacy of late jazz bassist Charlie Haden, the Liberation Music Orchestra was one of the most influential groups to emerge from the avant-garde jazz period of the 1960s. Founded by Haden and pianist/collaborator Carla Bley in 1969 as way to protest social and political injustices — and as a vehicle for exploring large-scale works of free and forward-thinking jazz — the Liberation Music Orchestra was a vital component of the bassist’s career until his death in 2014.
The group’s landmark 1970 album, Liberation Music Orchestra, featured original and well-curated cover compositions arranged by Bley that touched upon an array of sociopolitical topics, from the Vietnam War to the civil rights movement. It also showcased the group’s stylistic eclecticism, incorporating jazz, folk, and world music elements. Helping to achieve this sound was a cadre of jazz luminaries including trumpeter Don Cherry, saxophonist Gato Barbieri, drummer Andrew Cyrille, trombonist Roswell Rudd, trumpeter Michael Mantler, and others.
Over the next five decades, Haden and Bley would reconvene the LMO with varying lineups for a handful of albums including 1982’s The Ballad of the Fallen, 1990’s Dream Keeper, and 2005’s Not in Our Name. Throughout these recordings and various live performances, Haden displayed both his abundant musical vision and his profound commitment to supporting progressive political movements, environmentalism, and social justice worldwide.
Having contracted polio at age 15, Haden’s health suffered in later years and he was eventually diagnosed with post-polio syndrome. The condition left him in a weakened state and severely limited his ability to perform. Haden died in Los Angeles in July of 2014. He was 76 years old. In 2016, Impulse! released Haden’s final album with the Liberation Music Orchestra, Time/Life (Song for the Whales and Other Beings). Produced by Haden’s wife, Ruth Cameron Haden, and Carla Bley, the album featured a live performance Haden gave with the Liberation Music Orchestra in Belgium in 2011, along with three new studio recordings the LMO made after his death with bassist Steve Swallow, one of Haden’s many longtime friends.
Partial bio adapted from Allmusic.
This program is hosted, engineered, produced, and edited by Joyce Jones. Listen for our On the Bandstand segment with NYC metro area appearances of Suga’ guests at the end of the first hour with Associate Producer Hank Williams.
Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra will be closing the 2017 Winter Jazz Festival at Le Poisson Rouge at 8:00 PM on January 10 with pianist Geri Allen. This concert will be preceded by a panel discussion on social and environmental justice at 6:00 PM.
Read our report from Haden’s NYC memorial service on our blog. Also listen to Joyce Jones’s interview of Charlie Haden and Ruth Cameron on an earlier show.
Watch the Liberation Music Orchestra play “Throughout” in this live clip.
Watch the Liberation Music Orchestra play “La Pasionaria” in this live clip.
Hank Williams is assistant producer for Suga’ in My Bowl and produces the weekly “On the Bandstand” segment as well as running the show’s website and blog, where he has reviewed several jazz festivals. His writing has also appeared in Left Turn magazine and American Music Review. He teaches at Lehman and Hunter colleges in the City University of New York system.