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August 5 , 2014

Ballad of the Fallen, Old And New Dreams, Playing, Escalator: classic albums return!

Four important albums are back in print this week.

Charlie Haden’s The Ballad of the Fallen, recorded in 1982, continued the work of the Liberation Music Orchestra, begun in the 1960s. With Carla Bley as pianist-arranger and a line-up including Don Cherry, Dewey Redman, Michael Mantler, Mick Goodrick and Paul Motian, the orchestra reconvened to protest human rights violations and Reagan-era US meddling in political struggles in South and Central America. Songs from the Spanish Civil War beautifully arranged by Bley, and originals by Carla and Charlie distinguish a powerful recording that was voted Jazz Album of the Year in the DownBeat Critics Poll in 1984.

Old And New Dreams was the terrific band formed by Charlie Haden together with three other members of Ornette Coleman’s groups - Don Cherry, Dewey Redman and Ed Blackwell - to celebrate Ornette’s compositions and to play new music. Their debut ECM album Old And New Dreams, recorded in Oslo in 1979, includes the epic version of “Lonely Woman” that is one of the defining jazz performances on ECM (“a masterpiece”, Rolling Stone), as well as Charlie’s touching “Song for the Whales”. The live album Playing documents a performance in Bregenz, Austria and captures the band in full flood. Playing was DownBeat Album of the Year in 1982.

Charlie Haden is also amongst the massed cast of Carla Bley’s star-packed “chronotransduction” Escalator Over The Hill, usually described as a jazz opera, with Jack Bruce and Linda Ronstadt in leading roles, negotiating the cryptic lyrics of Paul Haines, and outstanding musical episodes with Don Cherry, John McLaughlin, Gato Barbieri, Roswell Rudd, Mike Mantler and many, many others. “A monumental, Herculean work”, The Village Voice. Jazz Album of the Year, Melody Maker Readers Poll 1973.