Appreciation: Jazz musician Charlie Haden spoke for beauty
Charlie Haden founded the Cal Arts jazz program in 1982. His instruction made an impact on generations of jazz artists around the country, including Ravi Coltrane and Ralph Alessi. (Tom Copi)
I’d probably only been covering jazz for the Los Angeles Times for a year or so when the phone rang at my desk and on the other end was Charlie Haden.
For a half-second, I was terrified. Was this how I was going to find out that the tiny voice in my head, the one that plagues so many writers, was right all along? Was Charlie Haden, an unquestionable music giant who contributed to a skyscraper’s worth of immortal jazz recordings, the one who finally figured out I was a fraud?
Of course, that wasn’t the nature of this phone call — or, for that matter, Charlie Haden. Instead, we talked about music. He spoke with a joyful, bebop-like cadence that pushed against his recognizably thin voice — a wispy reminder of the bulbar polio that afflicted him as a child and eventually claimed his life Friday at age 76.