Wednesday, August 6, 2014
Charlie Haden Day
Today is my dad's 77th birthday. Someday there should be a national holiday, or worldwide holiday, celebrating my dad's life and legacy, accomplishments and messages to the world.
But until then, you could:
1. Go to your local record store, or local online digital music marketplace, and purchase a recording of my dad's you'd never heard of before. A few weeks ago I picked up this record at my neighborhood record store. My dad played on literally hundreds and hundreds of records. Each performance is an example of the beauty he brought to all of us. Or.... purchase a copy of Charlie Haden Montreal Tapes - The Liberation Music Orchestra. My dad's laughter on "We Shall Overcome" is infectious and just represents his musical personality and him as a person so well. He was so happy that night.
2. Google "Charlie Haden Interview" and you'll be rewarded with insightful, inspirational, and revolutionary words, whether you are a musician or not. Especially if you aren't a musician in the strict sense. My dad always said that the path to becoming a great musician is to be a great person first.
3. Music and education went hand in hand for my dad. My dad loved kids and loved imparting his wisdom to them. He founded the jazz program at California Institute of the Arts and travelled the world teaching bass, composing, and improvisational technique. His long-standing class at CalArts was called "The Spirituality of Improvisation". Talk to any of his former students about how meaningful his classes were to them and they will tell you. He was incredulous that music education was so lacking in U.S. schools. Think about making a small donation to the kids' music program of your choice. My dad loved the Silverlake Conservatory of Music, which was founded by his friend and fellow bassist Flea. My dad loved Flea and loved supporting Flea's school. I've seen my dad perform countless times since I was a baby and the solo he played at one of the Conservatory benefits was the most incredible I've ever seen. He inspired the kids, and the kids inspired him.
4. Watch an old film noir movie. My dad loved the noir genre of literature and film. It inspired his music and way of viewing art. He was friends with film noir historian Eddie Muller and I am not bashful to say I was the recipient of many of the duplicate film noir DVDs he gave my dad, many of them not yet officially released. My dad loved Humphrey Bogart and two of his favorite film noir pieces were The Maltese Falcon and Casablanca.
5. Go outside, sit down in a peaceful place and listen to the birds sing. Think about how all of our actions, no matter how small, affect the rest of the world as a whole. Think about how we are all, individually, part of a much larger community. Think about the importance of bringing beauty to the world. And then think about your life as if it were a musical instrument, like a bass, and after you get up and go about your day, play each note as if it were your last.
Photo above by Stefan Malzkorn, Westport Festival July 1994.