Home » Artists » Tokyo Adagio

Charlie Haden - Gonzalo Rubalcaba: Bio

Time Magazine has hailed jazz legend Charlie Haden as "one of the most restless, gifted, and intrepid players in all of jazz." Haden's career which has spanned more than fifty years has encompassed such genres as free jazz, Portuguese fado and vintage country such as his recent cd Rambling Boy (Decca) not to mention a consistently revolving roster of sidemen and bandleaders that reads like a list from some imaginary jazz hall of fame.

As an original member of the ground-breaking Ornette Coleman Quartet that turned the jazz world on its head the late 1950's, Haden revolutionized the harmonic concept of bass playing in jazz. "His ability to create serendipitous harmonies by improvising melodic responses to Coleman's fee-form solos (rather than sticking to predetermined harmonies) was both radical and mesmerizing. His virtuosity lies…in an incredible ability to make the double bass ‘sound out'. Haden cultivates the instrument's gravity as no one else in jazz. He is a master of simplicity which is one of the most difficult things to achieve." (Author Joachim Berendt in The Jazz Book) Haden played a vital role in this revolutionary new approach, evolving a way of playing that sometimes complemented the soloist and sometimes moved independently. In this respect, as did bassists Jimmy Blanton and Charles Mingus, Haden helped liberate the bassist from a strictly accompanying role to becoming a more direct participant in group improvisation.

In addition to his hugely influential work with Ornette Coleman, Don Cherry, Billy Higgins, Ed Blackwell and Dewey Redman, throughout the ‘60s, and 70's Haden subsequently collaborated with a number of adventurous jazz giants, including John Coltrane, Alice Coltrane, Archie Shepp, Chet Baker and Joe Henderson.

From 1967-1976, Haden became a member of Keith Jarrett's stellar trio, quartet and quintet which included drummer Paul Motian, percussionist Guilherme Franco and tenor saxophonist Dewey Redman. In 1976, he formed the band Old and New Dreams with fellow Ornette Coleman alumni Don Cherry, Dewey Redman and Ed Blackwell to perpetuate Coleman's music as well as their own with musicians who knew and could perform Coleman's improvisational concept.

In 1969, under the banner of Liberation Music Orchestra (MCA/Impulse), Charlie commissioned Carla Bley to arrange for a large cast of illustrious improvisers including Don Cherry and Gato Barbieri and Roswell Rudd and made a record that has become a milestone in recorded jazz. In 1970, it won among many awards, France's Grand Prix Charles Cros as well as Japan's Gold Disc Award from Swing Journal.

The group's self-titled debut is a true milestone of modern music, blending experimental big band jazz with the folk songs of the Spanish Civil War to create a powerfully original work of musical/political activism.

A few years later he met Pat Metheny who was to become a life-long friend and collaborator and played alongside Dewey Redman, Michael Brecker and Jack DeJohnette in Pat Metheny's 80/81 band.

In 1982, Haden established the jazz studies program at California Institute of the Arts
The program he developed is unique in that it emphasizes smaller groups and the spiritual connection to the creative process and helps students discover their individual sound, melodies and harmonies. For his educational work he was recently honored by the Los Angeles Jazz Society as "Jazz Educator of the Year".

In 1986 he formed his acclaimed straight ahead band Quartet West with saxophonist Ernie Watts, pianist Alan Broadbent and drummer Larance Marable who because of illness was replaced by Rodney Green. Haden's vision for Quartet West recognizes the beginning of modernism in jazz. (Francis Davis, The Atlantic Monthly)Along with lush forties pop ballads and lilting originals by Haden or Alan Broadbent, the group's pianist, the Quartet's elegant "noir" infused bop-oriented style and stellar instrumentalists perfectly evoke a sense of place like no other band. Beautiful melodies are given lush, lyrical interpretations that captivate with their sublime beauty and passionate delivery. The Quartet has celebrated over twenty years together and it is one of the rare groups in jazz that has continued to perform as an ensemble over a long stretch of time.

Through the ‘90s and early 2000's, Haden continued playing with Quartet West and the Liberation Music Orchestra while also producing and recording or performing with Pat Metheny, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, John Scofield, Tom Harrell, Hank Jones, Kenny Barron, Shirley Horn, Ginger Baker, Bill Frisell, Jack DeJohnette, Michael Brecker, Joe Lovano, Abbey Lincoln, Stan Getz, Alice Coltrane and his former student Ravi Coltrane among many others.

In 1997, the classical composer Gavyn Bryars wrote an extended adagio for Charlie Haden By the Vaar accompanied by strings, bass clarinet and percussion. Recorded with the English Chamber Orchestra on the album Farewell to Philosophy (Philips) ,the piece hauntingly echoes Charlie's bass sound with its gut strings and resonant pizzicato notes in a wonderful synthethis of jazz and classical chamber music

Over the years Charlie Haden has received a Guggenheim Fellowship and several NEA grants for composition as well as three Grammy awards and more than fifteen Grammy nominations and countless international awards. In 1997 he was awarded a Grammy for his duet recording with Pat Metheny Beyond the Missouri Sky (Verve) which Haden dubbed "contemporary impressionistic Americana". The chord voicings and harmonic sense the two musicians display is uncanny as they bend and flex the melody and solo lines to create expressive and contemplative musical statements.

in 2001 Haden received the Latin Grammy Award for Best Latin Jazz CD Nocturne (Verve) featuring luscious boleros from Cuba and Mexico. Following that triumph he was again awarded a Latin Grammy for his follow-up cd Land of the Sun (Verve) which explores the compositions of the great Mexican composer Jose Sabre Marroquin "It's an homage to Marroquin, to the beauty of Mexican music. It's the ‘day' to Nocturne's ‘night' ", says Haden. With arrangements by Cuban pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Haden weaves a gorgeous tapestry of sound reflecting the beauty of Mexico.

His love of world music has also seen him teaming with a variety of diverse international players for many years, including Brazilian guitarist Egberto Gismonti, Argentinean bandoneon master Dino Saluzzi and Portuguese guitarist Carlos Paredes and even players outside the jazz genre such as Rickie Lee Jones, Beck, the Minute Men, James Cotton and Ringo Starr.

Along with a few rare concert reunions with Ornette Coleman- most recently in the summer of 2009 during the Southbank Festival's Meltdown in London – Haden has made a specialty of performing and producing intimate duet recordings with such jazz greats as Hank Jones on the album Steal Away (Verve) , Kenny Barron Night and the City (Verve) which are a perfect showcase for his rich elegant tone.

As he continues to perform with his piers such as Lee Konitz as well as younger musicians such as Brad Mehldau and Ethan Iverson, "There may be no greater ambassador for jazz these days than L.A.'s adopted son Charlie Haden." Chris Barton AAJ, 2009

In 2008 Haden brought his personal history full circle to record Rambling Boy (Decca) connecting the music from his earliest childhood beginning at the age of two as a member of the Haden Family, a legendary Midwest music institution in the 1930s and 1940s which toured and sang on the radio, to the new generation of the Haden Family now reborn in the 21st century. Rambling Boy includes songs made famous by the Stanley Brothers, the Carter Family, and Hank Williams alongside fabled traditional tunes and some striking original compositions. The performing cast includes Haden, his wife and co-producer

Ruth Cameron, all four of his children (the triplets Petra, Rachel and Tanya Haden, their brother Josh Haden), and his son-in-law Jack Black– each of whom has his or her own career in music. In addition, Rambling Boy features guest appearances by some of the most illustrious names in contemporary Americana and popular music: Roseanne Cash, Elvis Costello, Vince Gill, Bruce Hornsby, Pat Metheny, Ricky Skaggs & the Whites, and Dan Tyminski and also includes such illustrious musicians as Jerry Douglas, Sam Bush, Stuart Duncan, Bryan Sutton and more.

To complement this Grammy nominated recording, Swiss film director Reto Caduff released a documentary film about the Haden's life also named Rambling Boy in 2009. It's making the film festival circuit both internationally and in the U.S. and Canada including the 2009 Telluride and Vancouver International Film Festivals.

In 2010 Charlie recorded several albums which have just been recently released in 2010 & 2011 and are all currently among the top one hundred bestsellers on the jazz chart:

"Jasmine" on ECM Records, a duet album with former long-time collaborator Keith Jarrett. This was the result of a reunion of the two musicians when Keith was interviewed for the Swiss documentary film about Charlie called "Charlie Haden Rambling Boy".

"Sophisticated Ladies" on Emarcy/Decca Records with Quartet West and strings arranged by  Alan Broadbent featuring the vocalists Cassandra Wilson, Diana Krall, Melody Gardot, Norah Jones, Renee Fleming, Ruth Cameron. As a follow-up to "Art of the Song" with Shirley Horne and Bill Henderson and Quartet West, Haden wanted to further explore little known gems of the American Songbook with Quartet West and contemporary vocalists.

"Live at Birdland" on ECM Records with Lee Konitz, Brad Mehldau and Paul Motian which is a live recording from a date at Birdland in 2011 with four masters of improvisation.

Haden has been honored with the 2012 NEA JAZZ MASTER AWARD,
the nation's highest honor in jazz which will be given to him and four other honorees at a ceremony in Lincoln Center, NYC.

Charlie Haden truly is beyond category!

AWARDS AND ACHIEVEMENTS (incomplete list):

Jazz Echo Award GERMANY 2011 Quartet West Sophisticated ladies
2009 Lifetime Achievement Award Bassplayer magazine
2008 Grammy nominee Rambling Boy
Grammy Winner 2003 Best Latin Jazz Performance Land of the Sun
Best Local Jazz Artist/ New Times Los Angeles Music Awards 2001
Grammy Winner 2001 Best Latin Jazz Performance Nocturne
2000 Miles Davis Award Montreal Jazz Festival
Grammy Winner 1997 Best Jazz Instrumental Performance Beyond the Missouri Sky
16 Grammy Nominations
#1 Acoustic Jazz Group- DownBeat Readers Poll 1996 & 1997 Quartet West
#1 Acoustic Jazz Group- Downbeat Critics Poll 1995 & 1996 Quartet West
#1 Acoustic Jazz Group – JazzTimes Critics Poll 1995 Quartet West
#1 Acoustic Bass – Down Beat Critics Poll 1987 – 1998 Charlie Haden
#1 Acoustic Bass – Down Beat Critics Poll 1982 – 1998 Charlie Haden
Internationaler Schallplattenpries Frankfurt 1993 – Quartet West Haunted Heart
Grand Prix du disc de l‘academie Charles-Cros de Jazz – Liberation Music Orchestra
Jazz Disc Gold Award /Swing Journal, JP :Charlie Haden Liberation Music Orchestra
Jazz Disc Silver Award/Swing Journal, Japan: Closeness
Bronze Disc Award/Swing Journal, Japan

Charlie Haden's many honors also include a Guggenheim Fellowship, sixteen Grammy nominations in both the jazz and bluegrass categories. He has received dozens of "Artist" or "Album of the Year" awards from the New York Times, New Yorker, Time, Stereo Review, Downbeat, Billboard, CD Review, and Rolling Stone and his albums are on many "Best of…" lists over the years.

Gonzalo Julio Gonzalez Fonseca was born in post-revolutionary Havana into a musical family rich in the traditions of the country's artistic past. During his childhood, in addition to the standard fare of elementary schools, Gonzalo absorbed the Cuban musical heritage of his nascent environment through personal contacts within his family, notably his father, pianist Guillermo Rubalcaba and his two brothers (pianist and bassist) as well as from leading musicians who were frequent houseguests: Frank Emilio, Peruchin, Felipe Dulzaides and others. He also assimilated, through scarce and treasured recordings, the tunes and styles of 40′s – 70′s US jazz masters: Thelonius Monk,Bud Powell, Oscar Peterson among pianists; and instrumentalists Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and Art Blakey. Gonzalo loved drumming and early in his career studied both piano and drums. Despite the diversity of his background, Gonzalo's initial formal musical training was entirely classical. He began his training at Manuel Saumell Conservatory at age 9, where he finally chose the piano as his main instrument. He moved up to middle-school at Amadeo Roldan Conservatory and finally earned his degree in music composition from Havana's Institute of Fine Arts in 1983.

By that time he was already playing in clubs and music halls in Havana. He toured France and Africa with Orquesta Aragon in 1980 and introduced his ownGrupo Projecto to the North Sea and Berlin Festivals in 1985. Egrem Studios of Havana was the first to record his music during the early and mid '80′s and these discs, Inicio, an album of piano solos andConcierto Negro, are still available. Beginning in 1986 Gonzalo began recording for Messidor of Frankfurt, Germany and put out three highly acclaimed albums for that label with his Cuban Quartet entitled Mi Gran Pasion,Live in Havana, and Giraldilla. On the strength of these works Gonzalo began attracting international attention and in 1986 a chance meeting in Havana with bassist Charlie Haden brought him to the attention of Blue Note Records‘ president, Bruce Lundvall, and thus began an association first withToshiba/EMI of Japan and later with Blue Note in the US which resulted in 14 discs being released. (See the Discography page for a complete listing.)  In July 1990, he appeared as a surprise guest in an historic performance, available on the CD Discovery with Charlie Haden and Paul Motian (ex Bill Evans trio members) at the Montreux Jazz Festival, Switzerland.

Further works eventually brought Gonzalo both a Latin Grammy for Jazz Album of the Year, Supernova, as well as a Grammy for co-production with Charlie Haden on Nocturne, a Verve release of Cuban and Mexican boleros and ballads. Gonzalo has to his credit 15 Grammy nominations, including five for Jazz Album of the Year, Rapsodia in 1995, Antiguoand Inner Voyage in 1999, Supernova in 2002, Avatar in 2008. Among recent honors, in June 2001 Gonzalo received the SFJAZZ Leaders Circle Laureate Award and in 2002 he performed as Artist-in-Residence at the Montreal Jazz Festival together with Chucho Valdez. Gonzalo has performed with the likes of Dizzy Gillespie, Ignacio Berroa, Chick Corea, Al DiMeola, Herbie Hancock,Charlie Haden, Katia Labeque, Richard Galliano, Francisco Cepsedes, Tony Martinez, Issac Delgado, Juan Luis Guerra, Dave Holland, Chris Potter, Eric Harland, Dennis Chambers, Brian Bromberg, Ron Carter, Yosvany Terry,Matt Brewer, Mike Rodriguez, Marcus Gilmore, Pat Martino, Giovanni Hidalgo,John Patitucci, Jack DeJohnette, Joao Bosco, Eric Harland , Ivan Linz and many others.

Gonzalo continues to tour the world as a solo pianist in jazz and classical settings as well as band leader, employing the worlds top side men in club and concert engagements. His active repertoire has continued to expand beyond straight-ahead, bop, Afro-Cuban and other forms of jazz into the worlds of traditional Cuban and Mexican ballads, boleros and Cuban classical works. He has developed his own very distinctive voice, challenging the traditional musical classifications of the day.

His art continues to evolve and draw inspiration from both his Afro-Cuban heritage and the world around us. Our Maestro will continue shaping and reshaping the themes, forms and rhythms which have provided him with inspiration for his life's work. In whichever idiom he works, his future musical creations will be melodious, rhythmic, exciting and bear in their intriguing intricacies the artist's inherent intention of transforming the daily routines of our lives into something more beautiful and significant.

Gonzalo now produces and records for his own record label and production company, 5Passion LLC, founded in 2010.

The first offering is entitled ‘Fé" (Faith), a solo piano offering that  is an exquisite foray into the depths of color and emotion that reward the listener with every spin. In 2011, Gonzalo released "XXI Centrury" , a double CD featuring music from various periods and genres, and features the likes of  Ignacio Berroa, Matt Brewer,  Marcus Gilmore, Lionel Leouke , Pedro Martinez and Gonzalo Rubalcaba.

Gonzalo is currently working on his next offering, to be released in 2014. In addition, his 5Passion label plans to release several discs from Yosvany Terry, Ignacio Berroa, Jose Armando Gola and Alex Sipiagin, all of whom are considered some of the best musicians on the planet.

Charlie Haden - Gonzalo Rubalcaba

Tokyo Adagio


Click Here For Artist Stories

1 En La Orilla Del Mundo
2 My Love And I
3 When Will The Blues Leave
4 Sandino
5 Solamente
6 Transparence
Charlie Haden - Gonzalo Rubalcaba / Tokyo Adagio (impulse!)
Interview with NPR: To the Best of Our Knowledge

A posthumous release, but one that Charlie Haden ardently desired prior to his passing in July 2014. Tokyo Adagio marks the ultimate step in the American bassist's collaborations with Gonzalo Rubalcaba, the pianist of genius he met in Cuba in 1986, and with whom Charlie immediately found an entente bordering on telepathy. Several recordings - the famous Montreal Tapes of 1998, the studio albums Nocturne (2001) and Land of the Sun (2004) - are evidence of the huge complicity binding these two musicians, but no recording had yet given new life to the pure exchange they gave to the audience at the Blue Note Tokyo on consecutive evenings in spring 2005. Ten years later, impulse! is happy to publish this unique eye-witness account with a title to Charlie's taste (he referred to himself as "an adagio guy.") Through this tribute to the stateliness of his inimitable grace, the spirit of Charlie Haden is still with us.

9 NEW 190 Total
PRI/Jazz After Hours, NPR/TTBOTK
Direct: SiriusXM
Markets include: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Wash DC, Seattle, Atlanta, Cleveland, Miami, San Diego, Minneapolis, Baltimore, Denver, Detroit, St. Louis, Baltimore, Austin, New Orleans, Albuquerque, San Antonio, Omaha, Madison WI, Raleigh NC, Boulder CO, Tampa, Honolulu, Toronto, Vancouver
Online: Taintradio, The Eclectic Chair, Sun Music, Jazz From Gallery 41, Jazz & Blues Report, MOJA, Kind of Jazz, PureJazz, DirtyDog, SoulandJazz, Radio CUH, The Jazz Breakfast, JazzAvenues.com

Crossover Media Projects with: Charlie Haden - Gonzalo Rubalcaba