Charlie Haden Family & Friends

I first heard of Charlie Haden through this interview on NPR’s Weekend Edition. Apparently, Haden is a legendary bassist, having played across genres for years, most frequently supporting guitarist Pat Metheny.

Haden has three daughters, all of whom have musical ability, though none have made music their career – until now.  The story is that the Haden family gathered in Missouri a few years ago for Grandmother Hayden’s 80th birthday.  Charlie’s wife (not the girls’ mother) suggested that the girls and their dad sing.  What?  Oh, I don’t know, sing "You Are My Sunshine."  They did, and when they finished there was a knowing silence.

Charlie Haden Family and Friends:  Rambling Boy was released a few weeks ago.  It is a tribute to the timelessness and attractiveness of a certain kind of musical simplicity – at times bluegrassy, at times jazzy, at times plaintive, and often poignantly playful.

Add to this a rich cast of guest voices – Vince Gill, Roseanne Cash (singing her mother’s Carter family tune, The Wildwood Flower), Bruce Hornsby, Elvis Costello and Jack Black, who is actually a member of the Haden family, married to Tanya.  All of that said, the show-stealer is the harmony of the Haden girls.

Martha and I have been listening to this cd for several weeks now.  It wears well.  Our children love it.  We have danced to it.  It is one of those small gifts that allows us to enjoy musical creativity and to take ourselves less seriously in the process.

One caveat, Pat Matheny provides guitar background on much of the album, often with an endearing, lilting, clear quality.  Once though, his strength becomes his weakness, on the Celtic ballad, Fields of Athenry.  For a moment, we seem transported to the “Celtic Woman” production by PBS – and you might even mouth, “Oh, no.  Oh no, no, no.”  That said, the more I have listened to the album, the more clearly Matheny’s virtuoso shines through, lightening the load over and over again.

In short, if you want some fresh music, listen to the npr interview, purchase the album, and enjoy this entree’ to the Haden family.