Charlie Haden: War Orphans


War Orphans


Liberation Music Orchestra


Liberation Music Orchestra (Impulse CD 188)

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Charlie Haden (bass), Carla Bley (piano),

Don Cherry (cornet, flute), Michael Mantler (trumpet), Roswell Rudd (trombone), Bob Northern (French horn, percussion), Perry Robinson (clarinet), Dewey Redman (alto, tenor saxes), Gato Barbieri (tenor sax, clarinet), Sam Brown (guitar), Howard Johnson (tuba), Paul Motian, Andrew Cyrille (drums, percussion)


Composed by Ornette Coleman; arranged by Carla Bley


Recorded: Judson Hall, New York City, April 27-29, 1969


Rating: 90/100 (learn more)

In 1969, even though Charlie Haden & Co. were clearly staunch opponents of the Vietnam War, the Liberation Music Orchestra took the high road to deliver a sociopolitical message, performing instrumental music largely inspired by the Spanish Civil War. The big band was therefore infinitely more powerful than your average musicians performing their usual fare while playing political preacher between song performances.

On Ornette Coleman's "War Orphans" from the Liberation Music Orchestra's debut recording, Haden and pianist/arranger/co-conductor Carla Bley engage in an extended conversation with delicate, guarded grace. The remaining players creep in as the tune concludes, providing an eerie culmination in which a social and political message has been delivered without a word uttered. Also notice that this big band is not assembled by section as classic big bands were. A big band where you have only one musician to a part, as is the case here, is a significant modern development that leads to some groundbreaking playing throughout this 1969 recording.

Although the group has only occasionally toured and recorded since 1969, Haden and Bley occasionally bring the band out of retirement whenever the time comes to deliver a musical message. No surprise that they were set to perform at the Blue Note during election week in November 2008.

Reviewer: Eric Novod

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