Sunday, September 6, 2009

Charlie Haden: Music as a form of political action and protest

Listened today to a great program on ABC Radio National's Into the Music on American jazz musician and political activist Charlie Haden.

Haden has been making music for over 70 years. On his most recent CD Ramblin Boy you can hear a 2 year old Haden singing on his family's radio show. For over 5o years Haden has been a major force in jazz music, and music more generally, as a highly acclaimed and sought after bassists.

Charlie Haden has always been a politically outspoken jazz musician. During the middle of the Vietnam War, he formed the Liberation Music Orchestra in response to the Nixon administration and the war in Vietnam. The group’s debut album mixed songs from the Spanish Civil War, anti-war songs and a tribute to Che Guevera. In 1971 he was jailed in Portugal for dedicating a song to the black liberation movements of Mozambique and Angola.

During the Bush administration Hayden re-formed the Liberation Music Orchestra to respond to the invasion of Iraq with an album titled “Not In Our Name.”

Music is his form of political action and protest. The music is infused with political struggle and turmoil.

In this interview with Democracy Now Charlie Haden ranges far and wide over his musical and political activism. In it is this quote:
I think it’s a commitment to equality and to humanism and compassion in the world. It’s a commitment. I mean, when you’re a sensitive human being and you see the things that are going on around you that aren’t human, you know, you have to speak out and do something about it

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