Charlie Haden - RIP

I've seen online, without confirmation, that bassist/composer Charlie Haden has passed. Let's assume he hasn't, because that would represent a major loss to the firmament of American music and would make me very sad, but allow me to share my experiences with him assuming it's not true.

When Bad Livers were out there all by our lonesome, charting new courses out in the music world, we had the occasion to run into Mr. Haden more than a few times. He was always gracious, cordial and friendly and took a real interest in my playing, giving me much needed encouragement. When we first met we were both backstage at a street festival in Atlanta. He came from a folk music family and he told us how he appreciated what Danny and I were doing to live within the music, yet propel it forward, making it relevant to contemporary audiences. On one occasion in NYC, he was to be interviewed by the Jazz DJ and we were playing a live set for tail end the Folk DJs show.

At that time Danny and I had stripped the live show down to just banjo and bass, with long stream of conscious jams, weaving together our tunes with material Big Bill Broozy, Monk, Jimmy Martin and Sun Ra. Going out on  limb every time. There he was, behind the glass standing up as to catch the scene. Dark glasses in the middle of the day, with a huge smile plastered on his face. "Man, that was out of sight guys." he told us as we were packing up to make way. "You were cookin'." He was a bit of a gear freak, as many bassists are. "Hey man, I see you got Golden Spirals on your D and G. Good choice. So, hey, uh you got anymore?" LaBella stopped making these nylon wrapped gut strings a few years earlier and no other string on the market then was even close. "Why yes sir, I do." I reached into my case and pulled out a brand new-dead stock G string I had found in ratty box of odd strings in Lawrence KS just the week before. "With my compliments," I said as I laid it on him. I reckoned he could make better use of it than I.

I guess I should also mention that I saw Charlie many many years earlier, but had no idea what I was seeing. I had come to see the minutemen in Santa Monica in 1984. Still not sure what I saw however.

I'll be dialing up "Steal Away" tonight and remember a really class act.