Charlie Haden, one of the most innovative bassists in jazz, is also one of the busiest. He and his cooperative ensemble, Old and New Dreams (Don Cherry, Dewey Redman and Ed Blackwell), have just gotten back from a major European tour, and Haden will be in town all week as a newly seated member of the National Endowment for the Arts' jazz panel. He'll also perform at the One Step Down (See Picks, page L7).
The group, all Ornette Coleman alumni, keeps alive the intuitively based, free-form improvisatory spirit of Coleman (who has since gone electric). Haden says, "A lot of people would have liked to see Ornette keep acoustic, so people are happy to see us keeping that music alive. It's a unique way of improvising that only a handful of musicians know."
The big news is that Haden is about to reform the Liberation Music Orchestra, a seminal musico-political group that put out a legendary 1970 album that was buried by its record company even as it won "best album" awards in Japan, England and France (and a Grammy nomination at home). Rehearsals start next month in New York. "That feeling of purpose never went away," Haden says. "The time was right to do another one, what with everything that's happening politically in this country and abroad." Most of the music will be drawn from the traditions of El Salvador, Portugal, Chile and Spain, augmented by originals by Haden and Carla Bley.