June 14, 2024

Pat Metheny Teams Up With Bassist Charlie Haden

One of the musical highlights of the year is already here; the long-awaited duet recording by Charlie Haden and Pat Metheny. After years of hinting at such a collaboration, the two natives of the Show Me state decided to do just that with a set of aural landscapes titled “Beyond The Missouri Sky, (Short Stories.)”

“I have always admired Pat’s musical vision, his melodies, chords and voicing are unique unto him,” Haden says. “He is an innovator in the sound he gets, as he is in his composing and improvising. His musical presentation is always beyond category, and his sense of the sound in music that comes from the feeling of this country is uncanny. Of course, he is from Missouri, as am I, which surly has something to do with it. I call his sound contemporary impressionistic Americana.”

Adds Metheny: “Charlie has been a huge influence on me as a musician and as a person. He is simply one of the greatest improvising musicians ever, and his bass playing has set the standard for what is now several generations of musicians. It was an honor to be asked by Charlie to make this record. For me, personally, this is one of the most special recordings I’ve ever been a part of.”:

The title of the album suggests what has become of the careers of these two musicians after they left the respective towns, 50 miles apart, that they were raised in. Though Haden and Metheny have recorded together in many different contexts, they didn’t know each other as kids, and this is their first duet recording.

It is well documented how Metheny, as a teen, caught the ear of Berklee School of Music legend Gary Burton, toured the country, and before long was teaching at the University of Miami. Legendary Boston drummer, Bob Moses, and the late great Floridian bassist Jaco Pastorious, his trio mates on his very first album is an homage to the two cities he developed in

After his very successful recording career took off, Metheny began to explore the avant-garde music of saxophonist Ornette Coleman, and he went right to the source in asking Haden to play that music with him.

Though he was born in Iowa, Haden spent most of his early years elsewhere in the midwest, particularly Missouri. From the time he was two years old, until he was 15, he sang on the radio, and later television with his family’s country and western group. Haden learned to play the bass during his teenage years and after graduating from high school, moved to Los Angeles where he made history in the late 50’s.

Barely out of his teens, Haden met saxophonist Ornette Coleman who had just arrived from Texas. Coleman had trouble fitting into anyone else’s jazz scene, but immediately struck up a revolutionary and enduring relationship with Haden, trumpeter Don Cherry and drummer Billy Higgins. For decades to follow, musicians such as Metheny, would stop their career dead in its tracks to investigate just what it was these four musicians were up to with their improvising on all aspects of a tune, not just the chord changes.

Haden played a vital role in this revolutionary approach, evolving a way of playing that sometimes complemented the soloist and sometimes moved independently. He helped to change the role of the bass player from being strictly and accompanist to becoming a more direct participant in a group.

Years later Haden also was apart of two other important groups in jazz history. In 1969, along with composer/arranger Carla Blay, Haden formed the 11 member Liberation Music Orchestra, which has gained almost enough fame for their politics as their music. From 1979 to 1987, Haden collaborated with the group, Old & New Dreams. It was Coleman’s group and his vision with Dewey (Joshua’s dad) Redman in the sax chair.

Since 1987, Haden has led the thrice Grammy nominated group Quartet West. But throughout his career Haden always recorded with a most eclectic range of musicians. In recent years alone, he’s collaborated with Portuguese guitarist Calos Paredes, singer Rickie Lee Jones, rock legend turn jazz drummer Ginger Baker, blues legend James Cotton, alternative rocker Beck, classical composer Gavin Bryars and jazz stalwart Hank Jones..

Haden’s family is also deeply involved in music and the arts. His son, Josh, plays bass in the rock band Spain, which records for Restless Records. Daughters Petra and Rachel have a band, That Dog, with two albums on Geffen Records. Third triplet Tanya will soon graduate from California Institute of the Arts, majoring in Animation. She also plays cello sometimes with That Dog. Haden’s wife, Ruth, is also an actress and record producer.

Haden, like Metheny has a unique sense of American musicality and it is expressed quite well in the music they have made over the years.

“This album celebrates our country,” Haden says, ” It’s right at a time when the election has just taken place and the country now has a chance to come together again. The two musics that are this country’s strongest art forms are ones I’ve been involved with all my life, country and western and jazz. I think this record brings all of our musical art forms together.”

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