Published in the Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader, Aug. 8, 2014
This content cannot be reproduced without permission of the News-Leader.
Charlie Haden / News-Leader file photo
Charlie Haden, the great bassist who died last month, made an impression in Springfield as part of his family’s band back in the 1950′s, but his recent contributions to the city’s jazz community promise long-lasting rewards.
Randy Hamm, director of the Missouri State University Jazz Studies Program, came to know Haden during the conceptual stages of the MSU program and the first Springfield Jazz Festival, during the end of the last decade. Hamm also had a mind-blowing musical experience playing with Haden at that time. …
In 2009, Haden appeared at an important fundraiser for scholarships and equipment for the new program. MSU jazz ensembles provided entertainment for the event at the Kentwood Ballroom on campus. In addition, Hamm on alto saxophone and faculty member Kyle Aho on piano played as a duo.
Haden wasn’t planning on playing. He didn’t have his bass, and he was uncomfortable using other people’s equipment, Hamm said. However, after a couple of tunes by the duo, Haden stepped forward and joined Hamm and Aho.
“We let him call the tunes he wanted to play,” Hamm said. “One of the tunes that he called, which he had recorded several times, was ‘Body and Soul.’ ”
“I tell you, playing with Charlie Haden in that intimate setting, without a drummer — that Steinway in that room, the acoustics — it was one of the most rewarding musical experiences I’ve ever had.”
The three musicians had never played together as a trio. It was a leap of faith. “Just to call a tune, there was immediate, deep trust all around,” Hamm said.
He paused for a moment, looking for words:
“Playing with Charlie Haden must be what it feels like to ride on a magic carpet. His time, his intonation, his note choices, his rhythmic feel. It was gorgeous. I didn’t want to stop.”
The Jazz Studies Program has graduated its first group of musicians. The fifth annual Springfield Jazz Festival is Oct. 3.
Ed Peaco writes about locally grown Ozarks music for the News-Leader. Contact him at 417-413-9029 or EdPeaco@gmail.com.
View the complete article while it remains accessible at News-Leader.com.