Haden’s Spirit of Freedom


When Charlie Haden leads his Liberation Music Orchestra Tuesday night at the Hollywood Bowl, he’ll have more on his mind than just music.

“Whenever we play, we celebrate humanity, racial equality and human rights,” says Haden of the 15-member ensemble, which can sound like a Third World military marching band one minute and an intimate unit that spotlights free-wheeling, no-holds-barred improvisations the next.

“We play tunes such as ‘Nkosi Sikelel’I Afrika,’ the anthem of the African National Congress, and ‘Spiritual,’ an original of mine dedicated to Martin Luther King Jr., Medger Evers and Malcolm X,” says Haden, whose latest Orchestra album is “Dream Keeper” on Blue Note Records.

Also included on the program will be folk songs with social themes from many Latin countries, including Cuba, Venezuela and Spain. The latter is represented by “Hymn of the Anarchist Women’s Movement,” from the Spanish Civil War era.


The issues addressed by Haden, along with the beguiling music the ensemble offers, were the reasons Peter Sellars, artistic director of the L.A. Festival and director of the opera “The Death of Klinghoffer” now at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, selected the group for this performance.

“I wanted to put together a program that featured music as a social force,” says Sellars, the L. A. Philharmonic’s creative consultant, by phone from New York. The program also features Lawrence Foster conducting the Philharmonic in two symphonies by Mexico’s Carlos Chavez, another artist who instilled social themes into his compositions, said Sellars.

“This is what music was meant to do, to move against common social evils,” Sellars says. “And Charlie Haden is a deeply committed musician in that tradition.”

Also, the Wednesday night lineup at the Bowl has changed. Dave Brubeck remains, but Shirely Horn replaces an ailing Carmen McRae. And the concert has turned into a tribute to the late Stan Getz with Astrud Gilberto, Gary Burton, Roy Haynes, Kenny Barron and George Mraz on the bill.


CRITIC’S CHOICE: New York guitarist Mike Stern and saxophonist Bob Berg make their third appearance in as many years Tuesday and Wednesday at At My Place in Santa Monica. Stern, former Miles Davis and Michael Brecker plectrist, likes the Westside room for its intimacy: “You can feel the audience, and the other musicians, which, for me, makes it easier to get into a flow and forget the stuff that gets in the way.” His album “Odds or Evens” has just been released by Atlantic Records.

Asked what makes his band unique, Stern says, “It’s a pretty lean sound. There’s not a lot of orchestration. We kind of do a lot of blowing, just going for it.”

LAND HONORED: Saxophonist Harold Land has been selected to receive the Los Angeles Jazz Society’s 1991 Tribute Award. The honor will be presented to Land Sept. 15 at the Los Angeles Hilton and Towers in downtown Los Angeles. Other recipients include Oscar Meza (Lifetime Achievement Award), Shorty Rogers (Composer/Arranger Award), Bill Green (Jazz Educator) and James Mahone (Shelly Manne Memorial New Talent Award).