In 2011, bassist Charlie Haden and pianist Carla Bley led an iteration of the Liberation Music Orchestra in a live concert at the Jazz Middelheim Festival in Antwerp, Belgium. It was partially intended as a warm-up for a forthcoming Liberation Music Orchestra album, a process that had been in the works since 2007. Sadly, Haden died from post-polio syndrome in 2014 before any new LMO tracks could be recorded. Thankfully, Haden, along with his wife, Ruth Cameron Haden, and Bley had discussed his desires for how to finish the album prior to his passing. Furthermore, the 2011 performance, which included two new arrangements earmarked for the planned album, had been recorded for Belgian public radio. All this meant that an album was possible, and in 2015 Bley convened the LMO in a studio to record the new material. Per Haden's request, longtime friend and esteemed bassist Steve Swallow was brought in to play his parts.
A legendary album and rightfully so, Charlie Haden's 1969 protest piece, "Liberation Music Orchestra", is one of the essential pieces of music of his era. Assembling an extended cast of musicians to support the music with arrangements by the versatile Carla Bley, the music blends free jazz with folk traditions from the United States and Europe. Along the way, a series of fantastic individual performances underscore just how brilliant the record is.
This is number four in the series chronicling the week of concerts with different line-ups the Festival International de Jazz de Montreal devoted to the great bassist in 1989.
One of the outlets for bassist Charlie Haden's multifarious musical interests is the politically charged, progressive Liberation Music Orchestra. In July 1992, the Orchestra - a powerhouse of some of the top names in jazz - brought the collaborative sound of their album Dream Keeper to the Montreal International Jazz Festival. The African National Congress anthem, 'Nkosi Sikelel'I Afrika,' opens the program and sets the tone, with a blistering solo from the alto sax of Makanda Ken McIntyre and a more reflective one by tenor giant Joe Lovano.
Charlie Haden has a long-standing interest in Cuban music, first touched on with his Liberation Music Orchestra over 30 years ago. Nocturne expands on that affinity and on the bassist's relationship with Cuban piano virtuoso Gonzalo Rubalcaba, who introduced Haden to the tradition of the Cuban ballad, or bolero. The result is this very unusual mix of slow- to medium-tempo pieces, limpid, sometimes almost somber songs that are filled with yearning romanticism, wistful lyricism, and an inner light. NOCTURNE won the 2002 Grammy Award for Best Latin Jazz Album.