"Imagine Cream with Bill Frisell on guitar and Charlie Haden on bass": Charlie Haden's guide to his best work, from jazz to blues and beyond

Jazz Musician Charlie Haden with His Bass
(Image credit: Photo by © Roger Ressmeyer/CORBIS/VCG via Getty Images)

Over a period of some six decades, Charlie Haden redefined the language of jazz double bass, playing on hundreds of records as a leader, co-leader, and sideman. It all began with pianist Paul Bley in 1958; a year later, he went into the studio with the Ornette Coleman Quartet for a landmark session that was released on the aptly titled Atlantic LP The Shape of Jazz to Come.

Haden's instinctive understanding of melody, coupled with a distaste for double-bass histrionics, led to studio dates with the likes of Ringo Starr, Ginger Baker, Pat Metheny and Diana Krall. Rather than listing all of those albums, we assembled this representative selection, which is intended to give a sense of the tremendous range of Haden's recorded work. Start here – but rest assured that any record with the name ‘Charlie Haden’ in the credits is well worth listening to.

This article was first published in the August 1996 issue of Bass Player Magazine.

1. Ornette Coleman Quartet: This Is Our Music

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Jim Roberts was the founding editor of Bass Player and also served as the magazine’s

publisher and group publisher. He is the author of How The Fender Bass Changed The World

and American Basses: An Illustrated History & Player’s Guide, both published by Backbeat

Books/Hal Leonard.

With contributions from