A Tribute to Charlie Haden

Charlie Haden_John Ryrie
As a tribute to the great Charlie Haden (6.8.37 – 11.7.14), the artists illisted below have each contributed a solo piece, most of which were recorded at Pughouse Studios during the second half of 2014. Artists unavailable to record at our studio have sent in their contribution in the form of a newly recorded or never before released track.

All profits are going to Medecins Sans Forntieres

Scroll down to read what the artists are saying about their contribution.

At the bottom of the page I have listed some details about the recording process at Pughouse Studios, the post production and the gear involved.

For more info about Charlie Haden, please visit www.charliehadenmusic.com


Tamara Murphy
recorded 21.7.14 at Pughouse Studios

Tamara Murphy_4 b:w
‘When I was a teenager, I was introduced to the music of Charlie Haden. I was so intrigued by the internal approach to music he seemed to have – a man of few notes (comparatively) but with so much to say – each note imbued with meaning. In the following years, I took great enjoyment from going back through his earlier recordings (Quartet West, The Montreal Tapes, Liberation Orchestra – there was so much!) as well as pillaging his current releases as they came out. When Beyond the Missouri Sky (with Pat Metheny) was released I listened to that album endlessly, transcribed some of the solos and I played many of the tunes from the album. So much so that at this time, as I had began writing my own music, I composed Lullaby, which to me is a snapshot of this particular time in my life. When I play it even now, it takes me right back to the still, peaceful feeling I associate with Missouri Sky. I would have to say that Haden is certainly one of my biggest influences – and so this is dedicated to him.’

Oscar Neyland
“Body and Soul”
recorded 21.7.14 at Pughouse Studios

Oscar Neyland_2 b:w

‘Charlie Haden was not someone who had influenced me for a long time, I only really became aware of his body of work within the last two years. What struck me and really resonated with me about Charlie was his absolute truthfulness to himself in improvisation – he never sounds like he’s allowing “fluff” into his playing. He allows mistakes to be heard and embraced, and allows for a simplicity in his playing that many bassists would consider “beneath them”.His version of “Body and Soul” with Keith Jarrett from the “Jasmine” album redefined how I (try to) approach group improvisation and the role of the bassist. Free of ego and filled with purpose, serving only the music.’

Mick Meagher
“In a bit”
recorded 21.7.14 at Pughouse Studios

Mick Meagher_2 b:w
‘I spent a great deal of time in my early 20’s listening to Ornette Coleman. The sound his band created was so mysterious, yet engaging to me, and Charlie Haden was integral to that. One of my favourites is Haden’s playing on the Science Fiction Sessions, in particular his growling sound and the repetitive, intervallic approach to his bass lines. Over the past few years I have been exploring concepts for solo bass playing. ‘In a Bit’ was born out of a free improvisation that formed part of these explorations. I think it reflects Mr Haden’s influence on my playing, as well as the influence and spirit of improvised music on me as a whole.’

Rosie Westbrook
“Low Tide”
recorded 21.7.14 at Pughouse Studios

Rosie Westbrook_3 b:w
‘Charlie Haden has always been a huge inspiration to me with his melodic and empathetic playing and numerous collaborations with other instrumentalists. The first time I heard his “Dialogues” CD with the great Portuguese guitarist Carlos Paredes, I knew I had found the instrumental pairing that spoke straight to my heart and would form the basis of my own compositions. That album and the passionate playing on it still breaks my heart every time I hear it.
A few years ago, I attended Charlie Haden’s masterclass in Melbourne and he spoke of his lifelong inspiration to sound like the sea…I share that with him, hence my improvisation “Low Tide” is my tribute to the great bassist, Charlie Haden.’

Tim Nikolsky
“Open Heart, Open Mind”
recorded 21.7.14 at Pughouse Studios

Tim Nikolsky_1 b:w
‘For me, Charlie’s approach represents the essence of less is more. Every note Charlie played was deliberate, needed, wanted, and intentional.His real art lay in his ability to collaborate, namely in bringing out another side of musical partners we had not heard before. This is evidenced in many of his duo albums that possess a unique vibe. Depending on how, when and where you encountered Charlie’s playing it will mean different things for different people. For me, “Beyond The Missouri Sky” is my desert island disc; my definition of beauty and effortless mastery.The piece I composed is one that I hope Charlie would have liked. I imagine him playing with somebody fantastic, with “the sound (he produces on his bass is) so wide, so deep and so knowing that it seems to encompass all humanity” (to quote Jessica Nicholas in 2009). Charlie’s zen-like approach distills music into beauty. My favourite quote: (from npr.org) “I learned at a very young age that music teaches you about life. When you’re in the midst of improvisation, there is no yesterday and no tomorrow — there is just the moment that you are in. In that beautiful moment, you experience your true insignificance to the rest of the universe. It is then, and only then, that you can experience your true significance.’

Chris Frangou
recorded 25.7.14 at Pughouse Studios

Chris Frangou_5 b:w

Ben Robertson
“The Dimming Of The Day”
(R & L Thompson)
recorded 25.7.14 at Pughouse Studios

Ben Robertson_2 b:w
Charlie Haden played music like a sun shining on us all. That sun has set. He showed that music that is honest fills us with warmth and life.
I chose The Dimming of the Day – a pure melody about love and loss by Richard and Linda Thompson, thinking of the dimming of the light that was Charlie Haden. He playing is emblematic of his era, of a fearlessness and vulnerability tied up in an earthy sound, coupled with genuineness and integrity that comes from pure honesty of musical conception.
I hope what I played – even if nothing like Charlie’s playing- has something of that intention of at its core.’

Geoff Kluke
“Ziggy/Spirit of Jannie”
recorded 25.7.14 at Pughouse Studios

Geoff Kluke_1 b:w
‘Charlie was a true original. He never let his technique dictate the music. In fact he was very humble and self effacing when it came to his abilities, concerning technique. This is quite refreshing to hear.  He “truly” heard the music and was always creating melodies when he played. He played the music and not the bass.’

Nick Haywood
“The Law Years”
recorded 25.7.14 at Pughouse Studios

Nick Haywood_2 b:w

“Charlie Haden has been an important influence on my playing since I first heard him in the late 1970s. It was such an honour to be asked to be involved in this project. I chose to play a piece in which I could pay Homage to Charlie in my own way. The Law Years is from the Ornette Coleman album “Science Fiction” from 1971 and the original recording features Haden’s sublime playing.’

Anita Hustas
“Calm Sea”
recorded 29.7.14 at Pughouse Studios

Anita Hustas_1 b:w
‘A farewell song of thanks for the inspiration and the music.’

Zvi Belling
“Nikosi Sikele Africa”
recorded 29.7.14 at Pughouse Studios

Zvi Belling_3 b:w

Howard Cairns
recorded 29.7.14 at Pughouse Studios

Howard Cairns_1 b:w
“I always loved Charlie Haden’s sound and approach. His dark earthy gut string sound was a big influence on me, and I spent quite a few years playing Western Swing and Roots music with gut strings and seeking that sound of his… still do!’

Steve Elphick
“Silent Night”
recorded by the artist/contributed 31.7.14

Steve Elphick b:w
‘I was very moved by the story of the 1914 “ Christmas Truce “ during the first world war when I heard of it years ago, and since then “ Silent Night “ has held much more significance for me than just a pretty song or just a christmas carol.
This short rendition was recorded on christmas eve, 2012, and if there’s a lot of Charlie Haden’s influence in there, well thats just something about which I feel no shame. His was such a strong voice, both musically and politically, that it has been impossible to ignore.!
Farewell, Charlie’

Marty Holoubek
recorded 9.8.14 at Pughouse Studios

Marty Holoubek_1 b:w

Mark Shepherd
recorded 9.8.14 at Pughouse Studios

Mark Shepherd_2 b:w

Tom Lee
“All For You”
recorded 9.8.14 at Pughouse Studios

Tom Lee_3 b:w
‘I have always loved Charlie’s melodic playing, whether it’s providing the harmony to another musician or playing his own solo. His sense of melody and harmony always encapsulates a song, but also takes it further, opening up the structure of the piece. This piece was inspired by Charlie’s solo on ‘Body and Soul’ from Paul Motian’s 1989 album, On Broadway Volume 2, in which his melodies move delightfully and surprisingly through the song.’

Steve Hadley
“For Charlie”
recorded 9.8.14 at Pughouse Studios

Steve Hadley_7 b:w
‘I have been profoundly influenced by Charlie Haden, especially by his ability to mix up styles such as folky strumming with drone like notes, bouncing of each other. Charlie had a great sound, which differed from the ‘mainstream’, in part due to his exploration of gut strings (although in later decades he would go back to steel strings).
I had the honour of meeting Charlie the last time he was in Australia for the Melbourne International Jazz Festival, when I lent him my amplifier. When Niko asked me if I wanted to be part of the tribute sessions I had to think about what to do. A little over 8 years ago my dear friend Stuart Speed passed away [2006]. We were partners in crime and music and his wife Alex asked me if I would play his bass at his funeral service because she wanted to hear it one more time. I reluctantly accepted and picked up Stewey’s bass from their home and tried to get my head and hands around it (as bass players know, all basses have their quirks and you are constantly searching for notes that work and try to stay away from the ones that don’t speak so easily).
I was on the road with Paul Kelly at the time and after our show the night before Stewey’s funeral service I went home and started playing, trying to come up with something to play on Stewey’s bass. I also had his Fender Jazz bass at my place so it was a little weird.
Charlie had this folk song solo bass thing that I loved to play, often to get the bass in tune and get the strings droning together. I decided to base my piece on that.
When it was time for me to perform on Stewey’s bass at the funeral service at Fitzroy Town Hall, packed with all my peers and a vast music and family community, I was shitting my pants (I could understand how Elton John felt playing at Diana Spencer’s funeral). Then the ‘doctor show’ kicked in as it does and I got through the excruciating 3 minutes or so. Stewey’s bass was on display on an upright stand, but I hadn’t put it back properly after the performance and spent the rest of the service thinking ‘If it falls over i will have to kill myself’….in the event, luckily it didn’t.
On the day of the tribute recording I navigated my way through the Sunday desert of warehouses to the oasis at Pughouse Studios and tried to remember my piece as best I could. I hope you all like it.’

Leigh Barker
recorded 9.8.14 at Pughouse Studios

Leigh Barker_2 b:w
‘When Niko approached me to do this recording, I thought, “gawd, how embarrassing, I barely know anything about Charlie Haden’s music!” – my usual frame of reference these days is pre-war bassists like Pops Foster, Wellman Braud or Adrian Rollini.  Nevertheless, Mr Haden’s sad passing was an excellent reason for me to revisit Ornette Coleman’s classic early albums, where Charlie Haden well and truly transformed the double bass in Jazz.  What struck me the most is that had Ornette hired any other bassist, they probably would have told him to get stuffed at the request of disregarding the written form.  Charlie Haden (by all accounts) was happy to try anything, and consequently opened up a whole new world for all of us.  I chose ‘Peace’ from that era because it’s a splendid melody at a nice cruisy tempo.’

Alex Boneham
“How Deep Is The Ocean
recorded 10.8.14 at Pughouse Studios

Alex Boneham_1 b:w
‘Charlie Haden is one of those guys I feel you think about almost every time you pick up the bass. It’s always a happy moment when the music is flowing and something reminds you of him, in some way. I cannot imagine the bass without him and his enormous contribution to our music.
I thought about different ways of honouring Charlie with this project and decided against getting in there and ‘trying’ to do something that imitated or referenced him too much. It occurred to me that there is no need to reference someone like that…it’s just in all of our playing. I want to just play with sound, feel and melody – the way Charlie did every time.’

Evripides Evripidou
“Charlie’s Angels”
recorded by the artist/contributed 14.8.14

Evripides b:w


Shannon Birchall
“Waltz For Ruth”
recorded 23.8.14 at Pughouse Studios

Shannon Birchall_9 b:w
“Waltz for Ruth” has an intriguing melody and some simple but clever chord changes. Ruth is both intriguing and clever so it seems fitting to cover this tune. Originally I arranged the song for a trio of bass and two french horns. I always liked the way this atypical jazz instrument made appearances in Charlie Haden’s music. However in keeping with the objective of this recording I played the french horn parts with the bow instead. The horn players slept in.’

Frank Di Sario
“The Shadow Of Your Smile”
recorded 23.8.14 at Pughouse Studios

Frank Di Sario_4 b:w

Christopher Hale
recorded 23.8.14 at Pughouse Studios

Chris Hale_7 b:w

Jonathan Dimond
“Silent Key”
recorded 23.8.14 at Pughouse Studios

Jonathan Dimond_3 b:w
“Silent Key” is the term used by Amateur Radio operators when a radio operator passes away. Their morse code keying device literally becomes silent. Amateur Radio was a big part of my extra-musical life as a child and teenager. It was around the time of the release of the album “Silence” (1987) that I first became aware of Charlie Haden’s work, as a teenager.
I have adopted the chord progression and mood of the title track of Haden’s album as a musical elegy.’

Sam Zerna
“Law Of Threes”
recorded 23.8.14 at Pughouse Studios

Sam Zerna_3 b:w

Sam Pankhurst
“Agnes Hilton”
recorded 23.8.14 at Pughouse Studios

Sam Pankhurst_7 b:w

Gareth Hill
“The Sound Of Sand And Surf”
recorded 29.8.14 at Pughouse Studios

Gareth Hill_4 b:w
“The Sound of Sand and Surf” refers to a story of Charlie Haden’s exercise regime. If I remember correctly, in San Francisco he would run the distance from his house to the sea. After reaching the water, Haden would sit, listening to the waves, then run home. He said the sound of the waves was always with him, a sound he wanted to express whenever he played.’

Chris Bekker
“Folk Song 2”
recorded 29.8.14 at Pughouse Studios

Chris Bekker_6 b:w

Horst Nonnenmacher
“Chaden” (H.Nonnenmacher)
recorded by the artist/contributed 2.9.14

Horst Nonnenmacher_4 250x333 b:w
‘It took a little bit of time for me to digest the notice of Charlie Haden’s death. I think there is no Jazz bass player who is not influenced by his music, his unique sound and way of playing. He will be missing. So when I read Niko’s mail with the invitation to take part on this compilation I felt very honoured, but it was until I came back from a long stay in Brazil – with a clearer mind and focus – that I could think of an appropriate approach to the project. Finally I choose to play around with the letters of Charlie Haden’s name and use them as a matrix for the notes for me to select and play. So C is C, H is german for B natural, E is E….and so on. I developed a basic theme, very easy and country-like consisting of B (nat., german: H) A , D, E, N (=F#)… pentatonic…. I tried to hear as far as I could my own musical voice but to also think of Charlie Haden as a reminiscence. I hope I found the „right tone“.’

Kain Borlase
“Pokarekare Ana”
recorded 3.9.14 at Pughouse Studios

Kain Borlase_2 b:w
‘Some years of my childhood were spent under the care of my Grandparents in South Auckland, New Zealand. My grandmother played a little piano accordion and ukulele, and sang great harmony parts, all by ear, as was relatively common for her generation. She loved to sing Pokarekare Ana, a traditional ballad of the New Zealand Māori popularised during the war years. It has since remained dear to me and seemed a fitting solo bass tribute to the great Charlie Haden. Interestingly, since this recording I learned that Mr. Haden also recorded a Māori ballad of the same era, ‘Now Is The Hour’, the title track from his 1995 Quartet West release.’

Nick Tsiavos
“Prayer For Charlie”
recorded 3.9.14 at Pughouse Studios

Nick Tsiavos_2 b:w

Arlene Fletcher
recorded 3.9.14 at Pughouse Studios

Arlene Fletcher_3 b:w
‘This is an improvisation based on two original tunes – Dandelion and One Star. I aimed to link melodic fragments and repetitive nature of both tunes to create something simple that reflects my personal viewpoint and inspiration from Charlie Haden’s playing within this snapshot of time.’

Kim May
“Escape Of The Pot-Bellied Pug”
recorded 8.9.14 at Pughouse Studios

Kim May_4 b:w

Jonathan Zion
“15 Steps”
recorded 8.9.14 at Pughouse Studios

Jonathan Zion_5 b:w

Dean Addison
“Inter Tidal Zone”
recorded 8.9.14 at Pughouse Studios

Dean Addison_6 b:w

Cameron Undy
“The Path”
recorded by Richard Belkner at ‘Free Energy Device’; contributed 15.9.14

Cameron Undy_IMG_2297_100507 b:w
‘Charlie Haden changed my life! From the moment i heard him I wanted to play the double bass and straight away I started saving the money to buy an instrument. I would listen to this one record over and over (Rejoicing – ECM) and particularly to the opening ballad where each long sustained tone had me spell bound. The essence of his music is with me every time I play and his influence was so huge that it used to be that I could only really sound like him. Though I no longer sound like Charlie, this improvisation happened because of the path I chose through his inspiring music and embodies in my own way his philosophy of living for every note.’

Martin Lillich
“Voices Remembered”
recorded by the artist/contributed 16.9.14

Martin Lillich 2014-10-10 b:w
‘Charlie Haden represented for me calmness and a love for well balanced melodies and chords – so I let myself inspire rather by the space between the notes than the notes themselves. I imagined echoes, thus inviting the listener to add their personal recall of voices and sounds that come to their memory while listening to my playing.’

Louis Gill
“Traces Of Jasmine”
recorded 20.9.14 at Pughouse Studios

Louis Gill_5 b:w
‘I have always loved Charlie’s refined and uncluttered approach to playing the bass. With his great feel and exceptionally beautiful and full sound, I was especially inspired by his more recent duets with Keith Jarrett. Here we can hear beautiful playing that serves the song with nothing extraneous getting in the way. A true measure of refinement and simplicity. A great musician who will be remembered-thanks for the music Charlie.’

Zoe Frater
“Yellow Is The Sun”
recorded at Pughouse Studios 22.9.14

Zoe Frater_5 b:w

Philip Rex
“Martha’s Mood”
recorded at Pughouse Studios 22.9.14

Philip Rex_6 b:w

Jeremy Alsop
“Charlie Haden”
recorded at Pughouse Studios 22.9.14

Jeremy Alsop_2 b:w

Ben Cripps
“Metro Gnome”
recorded at Pughouse Studios 22.9.14

Ben Cripps_2 b:w
‘It is a honour to be involved with this tribute to the great Charlie Haden. When Niko sent a spreadsheet with all the other bassists involved I was even more honoured to share this experience with so many great players, a lot of them I have been truly inspired by. When I was doing some research on Charlie I came across a piece he wrote called “Blues for Pat” which he performed with Pat Metheny. This was my inspiration for the blues I wrote for this tribute album. I named it “Metro Gnome” after I came up with the head of the song whilst practicing with a metronome. I am use to being accompanied by other musicians apart from a bass solo here and there and I had never really performed or recorded a solo piece before so this was equally exciting and scary for me but it was a great experience to take the challenge and step outside my comfort zone.  I want to say a big thank you to Niko for approaching me to be a part of this amazing project.’

Dirk Strakhof
“It’s Only A Paper Moon”
recorded by the artist/contributed 22.9.14

Dirk Strakhof 6 b:w
“This is one of my favourite songs. A children’s song melody leads into abstract lines and comes back after a while. No rules but expressions.’

Des White
“Cinema Paradiso”
contributed 25.9.14

deswhite b:w

Brian Tairaku Ritchie
“C H A R L I E  H A D E N”
Produced by David Vartanian at DV’s Perversion Room, Milwaukee WI, USA/contributed 4.10.14

Simon Starr
recorded 20.10.14 at Pughouse Studios

Simon Starr_1 b:w

Djuna Lee
“Song For Charlie”
recorded 20.10.14 at Pughouse Studios

Djuna Lee_2 b:w

Linda Oh
“California Charlie”
contributed 22.10.14

Linda Oh (Vincent Soyez)
‘When I first started studying at WAAPA, there were two records with Charlie on them that I had on repeat – Charlie Haden Quartet West (1987) and Night and the City, duo with Kenny Barron. I had the pleasure of speaking with Charlie on a few occasions – the first time I met him was at the Thelonious Monk bass competition in 2009. Charlie was so warm and encouraging to say the least, and even the next few times I saw him he would remember my name and ask me how things were going. I remember him saying to me the first time we met that music was all about moving people emotionally and if you’ve done that, you’ve done your job.’

Jon Heilbron
recorded 2.12.14 at Pughouse Studios

Jon Heilbron_4 b:w

Ben Hanlon
“Folk Song”
recorded 2.12.14 at Pughouse Studios

Ben Hanlon_3 b:w

Recording Notes

Mics_2 Mics_5 Mics_6
My aim in these recordings was to focus as much as possible on the sound of each instrument and each individual artist.
I therefore used the exact same set up, both for the double basses (Royer R122V > Earthworks 1024 & AKG 426C in M/S > Grace m201) and the electric basses (direct in Gyratec II).

Sight adjustments were made regarding the position of the microphones and preamp levels to capture the desired sound until the recording found the artists’ approval.
Similarly, slight adjustments in EQ and compression were used in the case of the electric basses during recording,