50 Years since the dam collapse and the first woman marathoner - Off-Ramp for Dec. 14, 2013

Jazz great Charlie Haden plays Downtown LA's REDCAT

Charlie Haden

Steve Gunther

Charlie Haden concluded the emotional evening by telling his students: "See you at class on Tuesday."

Charlie Haden, the bass player and composer, has worked with musicians such as Keith Jarrett, Ornette Coleman and his own Liberation Music Orchestra. 

Off-Ramp producer Kevin Ferguson went to REDCAT  in Downtown L.A. recently for a rare performance by Haden as he conducted his Liberation Music Orchestra, composed entirely of CalArts â€‹students. 

Raised in the Ozarks, Haden thrived on music his entire life. As a child, he sang folk and country music before contracting polio at 15, damaging his voice. Determined to stick with music, he took up the double bass and has become one of jazz's most important contributors to the instrument.

On the iconic free jazz record "The Shape of Jazz to Come," you can hear him follow Ornette Coleman's lead but build a solid foundation for the band, too:

Haden's had health problems lately — his polio symptoms have resurfaced. He struggles with speaking and said he hasn't eaten solid food in three years. Guests wondered out loud if tonight might be his last show.

Haden was undeterred.

Want to read more? Our own Oscar Garza was there, too. He wrote a review for KPCC's Without a Net blog.


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