Charlie Haden: Song for Ché


Song For Ché


Charlie Haden (bass)


Liberation Music Orchestra (Impulse! IMPD 188)

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Charlie Haden (bass), Don Cherry (Cornet, Indian Wood Flute, Bamboo ), Paul Motian (percussion), Gato Barbieri (tenor saxophone, clarinet), Dewey Redman (tenor sax, alto sax), Carla Bley (tambourine),

Perry Robinson (clarinet), Bob Northern (french horn, percussion, crow call, military whistle), Roswell Rudd (trombone), Michael Mantler (trumpet)


Composed by Charlie Haden


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


Rating: 98/100 (learn more)

Charlie Haden’s distinction is his unmatched ability to use the precise intonation and note choice to wring human emotion from his acoustic bass. Haden locates the tonal center of a song regardless of whether it’s a simple traditional country of the Louvin Brothers or the strange non-traditional jazz of Ornette Coleman.

His own “Song For Ché” is his heartfelt lament for the iconic Latin American Marxist revolutionary, Ché Guevara. For nearly the first half of this 9-plus minute song, Haden spins a solemn sorrowful procession of notes that evolve into a tense, chilling rapid repeating of notes. Cherry’s wood flute makes a few random reflections before Guevara’s fellow Argentinean Barbieri releases the revolutionary fury. Mantler provides a more romantic counterpoint that soon gets overwhelmed by Gato’s big tenor, while the percussion rumbles underneath. A final, Latin folk-inspired melody very briefly emerges from the chaos then falls away, leaving Haden alone to quietly bring the song to a gentle conclusion.

Charlie Haden’s tribute to a controversial figure is more than just a song; it’s a jazz opera done to virtual perfection.

Reviewer: S. Victor Aaron


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