American bassist and composer Charlie Haden, who has influenced generations of jazz musicians through his work with Ornette Coleman and Keith Jarrett as well as his distinguished solo career, died Friday morning, July 11, in Los Angeles. The musician had suffered from prolonged illness. He was 76.
Haden's death was announced by his label, ECM Records, in a statement. "It is with deep sorrow that we announce that Charlie Haden, born August 6, 1937 in Shenandoah, Iowa, passed away today at 10:11 Pacific time in Los Angeles after a prolonged illness, " Tina Pelikan, ECM Records Publicity, stated.
The legendary musician is survived by Ruth Cameron, his wife of 30 years, and his children Josh, Tanya, Rachel and Petra, who are all musicians. They were all by his side at the time of his death. The family plans to hold a private funeral. Details of a public memorial service will be announced later.
Haden was born to a family of country-western musicians who hosted their own radio program. He started his music career by singing on air with his family at an early age. At 15, Haden contracted polio, damaging his vocal cord. His singing career ended but he continued pursuing musical development by playing bass.
In the 1960s, Haden played with saxophonist Ornette Coleman and pianist Keith Jarrett, making him known as a founding father of free jazz. "I wanted to play on the inspiration of a composition rather than on the chord structure," Haden recalled in a 2006 AP interview.
He was also a leader of the Liberation Music Orchestra, a large jazz ensemble which performed and recorded political protest songs for over 30 years.
In 1987, the bassist formed another important group, the Charlie Haden Quartet West, which fused modernist playing with affection for film noir and music of the 1930s and 1940s. The group released eight recordings.
Haden received Grammy Award for Best Jazz Instrumental Performance in 1997 for his collaboration with guitarist Pat Metheny. His sessions with Cuban pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba in 2001 and 2004 won Grammy Award for Best Latin Jazz Album.
In 2009, a Swiss documentary about the bassist entitled "Rambling Boy" was launched. "Rambling Boy" was originally a title of Haden's 2008 country/folk album featuring his triplet daughters, Tayna, Rachel and Petra, as well as many famous names. He received the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters Award in early 2012.
In 2013, Haden received a Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award. In an interview with The Associated Press shortly before receiving the award, the bassist said, "I want to take people away from the ugliness and sadness around us every day and bring beautiful, deep music to as many people as I can."