Charlie Haden Talks About All That Jazz

So, what have you been up to?
I’m doing a lot of different projects. Just had a recording come out with (pianist/composer) Keith Jarrett called Jasmine; just did a new recording with my Quartet West called Sophisticated Lady; and I just did a new recording with (pianist) Brad Mehldau, (percussionist/composer) Paul Motian and (saxophonist/composer) Lee Konitz called At Birdland. I did a recording with Hank Jones, a wonderful pianist whom I played with many years ago when we recorded an album Steal Away: Spiritual Hymns & Folk Songs. We have another – a new record called Come Sunday. I’m planning a book and I’m planning a new numeration orchestra recording, working with my wife Ruth Cameron who’s my producer and my manager, and hopefully do another country record with my kids.
You’ve been pretty busy!
Yeah! Too busy. I devote the rest of my day to the stock market—I’m over at Wall Street everyday.
How do you define jazz in your terms?
Well, you know, the definition of the art form of jazz is different for every person because it depends on a person’s ability to comprehend beautiful harmonies and melodies and chord changes… So, the definition is kind of up to the person and I really don’t recognise categories. I don’t think about categories; I think about beautiful music. And nowadays especially there aren’t really any forms of music that are attractive to me, like hip hop & rock… I know some great musicians who are involved in rock music… it’s not my cup of tea… And the thing that I try to make better is the music of beauty.
Who are some of the most interesting musicians you’ve worked with?
Well, you know, I’ve played with some great musicians during my career and I’m playing with more great musicians… I’m lucky like that, to find dedicated musicians who feel the same way I do about music, and have the same musical values that I do, and that’s what I always look forward to.
Let us in on some names.
Well, you know, (saxophonist/composer) John Coltrane, (saxophonist/violinist/trumpeter/ composer) Ornette Coleman…many, many great musicians… Why? Because they are innovators. They want to make music that’s never been made before.
Who would you like to collaborate with that you haven’t yet?
Oh…umm…That’s difficult to say. I’m thinking all the time about what I’m going to do next but I always look for opportunities to play with great musicians.
Who or what are your influences?
Life is my influence—A mockingbird, a beautiful trumpet, a beautiful mountain, my children, my grandsons, my three wonderful grandsons… When I see them smile, it’s inspiration. My daughters and my sons are always making great music so I listen to them.
How do you think jazz has evolved from when you first started playing, to this day? I think it’s most important to listen to it, rather than try to analyse it. Who is Charlie Haden? Well…that’s too complicated for me to figure out; that’s a question to ask someone else.
Soak in the aural beauty of Charlie Haden’s Quartet West on Mar 12, 7:30pm at the Esplanade Concert Hall, 1 Esplanade Dr., 6828-8377. $25-100 from Sistic.