ALBUM REVIEW: Charlie Haden - Rambling Boy

Charlie Haden is known as one of the greatest jazz bassists in music, but he returns to the folk and bluegrass music of his childhood in his new Americana gem which is aptly titled "Rambling Boy."
This album shines a bright light on Haden's musical heritage and is reminiscent of the sound and feel of the "O Brother Where Art Thou" projects. Like the aforementioned albums, "Rambling Boy" also brings to the forefront his illustrious set of friends, including Vince Gill, Ricky Skaggs, Elvis Costello, Pat Metheny and Bruce Hornsby along with members of his prominent family such as The Decemberists' Petra Haden and Tanya Hade and her husband, actor Jack Black.

The album starts out strong with an irresistibly toe-tapping cut titled "Single Girl, Married Girl" and ends with one of the best versions of "Oh Shenandoah" ever recorded. Of course, with Haden's vast access to the world's best musical talent, the production is flawless.

As a boy, Charlie Haden listened to his parents favorite folk, bluegrass and country music on the radio, and "Rambling Boy" hearkens the listener back to simpler times when good music was enjoyed together as a family huddled around a single radio. Petra Haden's vocals sparkle on the Irish-tinged folk song "The Fields of Athenry." The rest of the CD is a mixture of bluegrass, soul, folk and country mixed with a little gospel.

In "Rambling Boy," Charlie Haden has fully utilized his most precious assets - his great talent, accomplished friends and close-knit family. By combining all of these elements, what you get is a fun recording that constantly surprises the listener while reminding us of our layered, American musical legacy.

About Charlie Haden

Born in Shenandoah, Iowa, Charlie Haden began his life in music almost immediately, singing on his parents’ country & western radio show at the tender age of 22 months. He started playing bass in his early teens and in 1957, left America’s heartland for Los Angeles, where he met and played with such legends as Art Pepper, Hampton Hawes, and Dexter Gordon.
In 1959, Haden he teamed with Ornette Coleman to form the saxophonist’s pioneering quartet (alongside trumpeter Don Cherry and drummer Billy Higgins). In addition to his still-influential work with Coleman, Haden also collaborated with a number of adventurous jazz giants, including John Coltrane, Archie Shepp, Keith Jarrett and Pat Metheny.
In 1969, Haden joined forces with pianist/composer Carla Bley, founding the Liberation Music Orchestra. The group’s self-titled debut is a true milestone of modern music, blending experimental big band jazz with the folk songs of the Spanish Civil War to create a powerfully original work of musical/political activism.

An acoustic bassist of extraordinary gifts, Haden’s talents as a musicain have been in constant demand by his fellow artists. As a result, he has collaborated with a genuinely stunning array of musicians, including Hank Jones, Don Cherry, Dewey Redman, Paul Motian, Jack DeJohnette, Michael Brecker, Kenny Barron, and Pat Metheny (with whom Haden shared a 1997 “Best Jazz Instrumental Individual/Small Group” Grammy® Award for their Beyond the Missouri Sky) .
Haden’s love of world music has also seen him teaming with a variety of diverse international players, including Brazilian guitarist Egberto Gismonti, Argentinean bandoneon master Dino Saluzzi, and Portuguese guitar giant Carlos Paredes. In addition, Haden has explored diverse streams of American popular music with both his acclaimed Quartet West, as well as on such recent collections as 2002’s inventive alliance with Michael Brecker, “AMERICAN DREAMS.”
Charlie Haden who was invited to establish the jazz studies program at California Institute of the Arts in 1982, has earned countless honors from around the globe, including and the Los Angeles Jazz Society prize for “Jazz Educator of the Year”, two Grammy Awards (alongside a multitude of nominations), myriad Down Beat readers and critics poll winners, a Guggenheim fellowship, four NEA grants for composition, France’s Grand Prix Du Disque (Charles Cros) Award, Japan’s SWING Journal Gold, Silver and Bronze awards and the Montreal Jazz Festival’s Miles Davis Award.