Charles Edward Haden was born on August 6, 1937 in Shenandoah, Iowa into a musical family who performed on the Haden Family radio show. He made his professional debut as a singer on the radio show when he was just two years old. He continued singing with his family until he was 15 but a bulbar form of polio affecting his throat and facial muscles sidelined him but a year earlier he had become interested in jazz after hearing Charlie Parker and Stan Kenton in concert.
Recovering from his bout with polio, Charlie began concentrating on the bass and soon set his sights on moving to Los Angeles, California to pursue his dream of becoming a jazz musician and in 1957 he realized his dream turning down a full scholarship at Oberlin College, which had no established jazz program at the time and attended Westlake College of Music.] His first recordings were made that year with Paul Bley, with whom he worked until 1959. He also played with Art Pepper for four weeks in 1957, and from 1958 to 1959, with Hampton Hawes whom he met through his friendship with bassist Red Mitchell and for a time shared an apartment with the bassist Scott LaFaro.
In May 1959, he recorded his first album with the Ornette Coleman Quartet, the seminal The Shape of Jazz to Come. Later that year, the Ornette Coleman Quartet moved to New York City, secured a six-week residency at the Five Spot Café that would represent the beginnings of free or avant-garde jazz.
By 1960, Haden’s narcotics addiction forced him to leave Coleman’s band, go into rehabilitation in 1963 in California, met his first wife and moved to the Upper West Side of New York City. He resumed his career in 1964, working with John Handy, Denny Zeitlin’s trio, performed with Archie Shepp in California and Europe and freelanced with Henry “Red” Allen, Pee Wee Russell, Attila Zoller, Bobby Timmons, Tony Scott, the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra, Roswell Rudd, and returned to Ornette Coleman’s group in 1967.
Charlie went on to work with Keith Jarrett’s trio and his American Quartet, organized the collective Old and New Dreams, which consisted of Don Cherry, Dewey Redman, and Ed Blackwell from Coleman’s band. He founded his first band, the Liberation Music Orchestra at the height of the Vietnam War, working with arranger Carla Bley, exploring free jazz and political music. The original lineup consisted of Haden and Bley and Gato Barbieri, Dewey Redman, Paul Motian, Don Cherry, Andrew Cyrille, Mike Mantler, Roswell Rudd, Bob Northern, Howard Johnson and Sam Brown.
Over the course of his half-century career he established the Jazz Studies Program at California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, been honored as Jazz Educator of the Year and as a leader has won several Grammy Awards, recorded forty-six albums as well as 134 albums as a sideman with Geri Allen, Ray Anderson, Ginger Baker, Bill Frisell, Kenny Barron, Beck, Paul Bley, Jane Ira Bloom, Michael Brecker, Henry Butler, Alice Coltrane, John Coltrane, Robert Downey Jr., Dizzy Gillespie, Jim Hall, Tom Harrell, Joe Henderson, Fred Hersch, Laurence Hobgood, Rickie Lee Jones, Lee Konitz, Brad Mehldau, David Liebman, Abbey Lincoln, Helen Merrill, Pat Metheny, Bheki Mseleku, Yoko Ono, Joe Pass, Enrico Pieranunzi, Joshua Redman, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, John Scofield, Wadada Leo Smith, Ringo Starr and Masahiko Togashi.
Double bassist, bandleader, composer, educator and NEA Jazz Master Charlie Haden, who revolutionized the harmonic concept of bass playing in jazz passed away in Los Angeles, California on July 11, 2014, at the age of 76 after suffering from effects of post-polio syndrome and complications from liver disease.
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Jan Jankeje was born January Jankeje on July 30, 1950 in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia and studied and played the bass since childhood. He emigrated to Germany in 1968 and has since lived in the Stuttgart area.
He has worked with Ella Fitzgerald, Benny Goodman, Eugen Cicero, Al Casey, Benny Waters, Attila Zoller, George Wein, Joe Pass, Tal Farlow, Horst Jankowski, Oscar Klein and Jaco Pastorius among others. He has toured with Dieter Bihlmaier and with Hans-Jürgen Bock Ragtime Specht Groove.
He founded his own record company Jazz Point Records with his wife Gerti Jankejova and has recorded as a leader as well as Biréli Lagrènes , with whom he worked eight years from 1979. He also worked as a studio musician recording live recordings with Jaco Pastorius.
With Bernd Marquart he founded in 1988 the Jazz Jokers, debuting the same year with a CD, international touring and festivals. He also played gypsy jazz with Wedeli Köhler, Diz Dizley and Manno Guttenberger. He wrote the song First Tango for Jeanne Moreau in Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s last film Querelle. Bassist, composer, producer and bandleader Jan Jankeje continues to perform, record and tour.
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Jack Six was born on July 26, 1930 in Danville, Illinois. He studied trumpet between 1945-1947 and worked in Chicago, Los Angeles and New York City where he spent a year studying composition at the Juilliard School in 1955.
As a bassist he played in the Tommy Dorsey Ghost Band led by Warren Covington, then in the big bands of Claude Thornhill and Woody Herman while he continued his studies. He spent several years in groups led by Herbie Mann and also Don Elliott . From 1968 to 1974 he was a part of the Dave Brubeck Trio with drummer Alan Dawson and this tenure Jack followed with Jim Hall.
After a few years in television shows and the musical director of a hotel band from 1989-1998, Six returned to work with Brubeck on tour. Over the course of a forty year career he recorded some 77 jazz sessions with Maxwell Davis,Tal Farlow, Jack Reilly, Dave Pike, Marlene Verplanck, Gerry Mulligan, Susannah McCorkle, Dick Meldonian, Johnny Rae’s Afro-Jazz Septet, Marco Di Marco and Marty Grosz among numerous others.
Bassist Jack Six, a consummate sideman who never led his own recording session, passed away on February 24, 2015.
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Didier Levallet was born in Arcy-sur-Cure, France on July 19, 1944 and is a self-taught bassist. He made his professional debut in Paris in 1969 working with the likes of Ted Curson, Johnny Griffin, Kenny Clarke, Mal Waldron, Hank Mobley, Steve Lacy, Harry Beckett and Didier Lockwood.
Didier worked with the free-jazz quartet Perception through the 70s and toured the United States with tenor saxophonist Byard Lancaster from 1974 to 1976. He also led Confluence, a group based on strings and percussion only. By the early Eighties he was playing with Frank Lowe, Archie Shepp, Mike Westbrook’s Concert Band and Chris McGregor’s Brotherhood Of Breath as well as the Double Quartet with Tony Oxley.
Levallet is a prolific composer who combines free-improvisation and structure coherently. He works within four bands – the Quintet, a 12-piece band, Swing Strings System with seven string players plus drums and a trio with violinist Dominique Pifarely and guitarist Gérard Marais. In 1976, he founded ADMI, the Association pour la Developement de la Musique Improvise.
He was a former Director of the French National Jazz Orchestra from 1997 to 2000 and serves as an educator at the L’École Nationale de Musique in Angoulême. Double bassist, composer, arranger and leader Didier Levallet regularly hold workshops and music concerts in Cluny, France.
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Roy Babbington was born July 8, 1940 in Kempston, Bedfordshire, England. He started his musical career in 1958, playing double bass in local jazz bands and at the age of 17 he took up the post of double bass, doubling on electric guitar with The Leslie Thorp Orchestra at the Aberdeen Beach Ballroom. While there he honed his sight reading skills and after a move to London in 1969, he joined the band Delivery, one of the side roots of the Canterbury scene with Phil Miller, Pip Pyle and Lol Coxhill.
Babbington began to work as a session musician with jazz/fusion musicians like Michael Gibbs and The Keith Tippett Group with Elton Dean. He was part of the recording session on their album Dedicated To You But You Weren’t Listening in 1970, Tippett’s big band project Centipede in ‘71 and Dean’s album Just Us. Post Delivery in 1971 after Carol Grimes’ album Fools Meeting, he joined the group Nucleus.
He would go on to perform and record with Alexis Korner, Harvey Andrews, Mike d’Abo, Chris Spedding and as a part time member of the bands Schunge, Solid Gold Cadillac, Ovary Lodge and Soft Machine. Remaining active on the UK jazz scene he played with Barbara Thompson’s Paraphernalia, Intercontinental Express, various bands led by pianist Stan Tracey and sat in on the album session Welcome to the Cruise by Judie Tzuke.
By the 1980s and 90s, Roy returned to his roots playing the double bass and pure jazz, so much, he became affectionately known by the musical community as the Jazz Handbrake. He also worked with Elvis Costello, Carol Grimes, Mose Allison and the BBC Big Band. Since 2008, bassist Roy Babbington, who has played big band and fusion jazz, continues to perform with Soft Machine Legacy, replacing Hugh Hopper as their electric bassist in 2009.
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