Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Charlie Haden - Not In Our Name (Verve, 2005)

Charlie Haden has a long history of social activism throughout his career as a musician. As his Quartet West group is his outlet for his love of bebop and ballads, the Liberation Music Orchestra is his outlet for freer playing and for calling attention to the problems of the world. This album is a protest against the Iraq war and the title, Not in Our Name refers to the number or people who refuse to support military intervention. Haden’s original Liberation Music Orchestra album came out in 1970 and was arranged by Carla Bley, who makes a return engagement on this CD, straw-bossing a large cast of musicians and contributing arrangements of some very unusual standards that are not often found in the jazz canon.

“Not in Our Name” and the Pat Metheny composition “This is Not America” set the tone for the album, with a somber but not morose feel. Improvisations are anchored by solos by Michael Zenon and Tony Malaby on saxophones. The unusual standards kick in toward the mid-point of the album with versions of “America the Beautiful” and “Amazing Graze” giving the music an ethereal, spiritual vibe. This is a sobering but ultimately uplifting meditation on peace and the need to speak out in the search of it. Recommended.

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