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Rambling Boy

4.1 out of 5 stars 133 customer reviews

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Audio CD, September 23, 2008
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

The acclaimed jazz bassist changed the shape of jazz playing with the original Ornette Coleman Quartet in the late 1950s and went on to record some of the most seminal albums in music with artists like John Coltrane, Keith Jarrett and Pat Metheny. With his 2008 record, Haden fulfills his dream to play the Haden Family songs with his wife and children and such close friends as Bruce Hornsby, Rosanne Cash and Elvis Costello. The album's nineteen songs explore the worlds of country and jazz, and range from traditional to contemporary Americana.

From the Artist

Charlie Haden was literally born into country music. His parents Carl and Virginia Haden (professionally known as "Uncle Carl" and "Mary Jane") led the self-contained Haden Family. The Haden Family--which also included Charlie's two older brothers, Carl Jr. and Jim, and his older sister Mary-- was heard on every major radio station in the South and Midwest. The group had its own radio show on radio station KMA in Shenandoah, Iowa, performing both popular songs of the day and Carl Haden originals like "Moberly Mine Disaster" and "Ozark Moon."

"My parents toured all over the country, going from one radio station to another to perform" Charlie recalls. "They were on their way to Des Moines when a snowstorm came up. They stopped at a motel in Shenandoah, where my dad called the local radio station and asked if they could come in and audition. They got the job and ended up staying there."

Charles Edward Haden was born August 6, 1937 in Shenandoah, Iowa; he was not quite two years old when he first sang on the radio. This precocious performance by "Little Cowboy Charlie" was recorded--and now appears as "Haden Family History," the penul¬timate track on. Rambling Boy. It segues into "Oh Shenandoah," sung by the mature Charlie Haden in a moving tribute to his parents.

When Charlie Haden was four years old, his family moved to Springfield, Missouri to take a job at radio station KWTO ("Keep Watching the Ozarks"). In an interview with Amy Goodman for "Democracy Now," the artist said: "My dad was the MC, he gave all the commercials--Wait's Green Mountain cough syrup, Sparkalite cereal, Allstate Insurance...We had all kinds of sponsors. We got bags of mail from all over the country. "

"And it was really a great experience for me...being close to my family and devoted to this music. My life was filled with music, and I learned so much about harmony and melody singing with them"

Charlie continued to sing with the group until age 15 when he contracted bulbar polio. The disease weakened the nerves of his vocal cords, and effectively put an end to his singing career. But Haden continued to play bass, the instrument he'd picked up a few years earlier, and his life changed forever when he heard Charlie Parker play on a "Jazz at the Philharmonic" concert in Omaha, Nebraska.

"That's when I decided to play jazz," he says. "So in order to save enough money to get to L.A. and go to music school and meet my idol, [pianist] Hampton Hawes, I began playing bass on `The Ozark Jubilee,' a network television show based in Springfield."

"Red Foley [1910-1968] was the host of the show and then Eddie Arnold [[1918-2008]. Eddie Arnold's guitar player was Hank Garland and Grady Martin was the guitarist for Red Foley. They were both wonderful musicians and we'd play jazz tunes whenever there was a break on the set...I've always found that really good country musicians are usually jazz fans."

In 1956, Charlie Haden moved to Los Angeles and enrolled at Westlake College of Modern Music. Within a year, he was playing jazz with Hampton Hawes and saxophonist Art Pepper; soon after, drummer Lennie McBrowne introduced Charlie to Ornette Coleman...and the rest, as they say, is history.

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Single Girl, Married Girl
  2. Rambling Boy
  3. 20/20 Vision
  4. Wildwood Flower
  5. Spiritual
  6. Oh Take Me Back
  7. You Win Again
  8. The Fields Of Athenry
  9. Ocean Of Diamonds
  10. He's Gone Away
  11. A Voice From On High
  12. Down By The Salley Gardens
  13. Road Of Broken Hearts
  14. Is This America? (Katrina 2005)
  15. A Tramp On The Street
  16. Old Joe Clark
  17. Seven Year Blues
  18. Old Haden Family Show
  19. Shenandoah

Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 23, 2008)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Decca
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (133 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #106,750 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By By Mark Braun VINE VOICE on September 23, 2008
Format: MP3 Music
When the pretensions of celebrity recordings gets stripped away, there's not a lot that I'd buy today. Then, along comes this brilliant gem. It is a wonderful circle of true believers, honed on PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION that delivers the goods like these gorgeous tracks. It takes big talent to step back and cut a simple, small-sounding disc, and by god, they've done it and done it really well.

With the purity that American mountain music emotes, "Charlie Haden Family and Friends: Rambling Boy" is as pure as a mountain stream and a beautiful reminder of what great, traditional Americana sounds like.

Neatly assembled and brilliantly simple, this collection of tracks brings together A past Decemberist (Petra Haden), an actor (Tanya Haden's husband, Jack Black), a couple of modern country legends (Ricky Skaggs, Vince Gill), a jazz man (Pat Metheny), an indie/FM artist or two (Bruce Hornsby, Elvis Costello) and a better cross-section of talent you'd be hard-pressed to find.

Petra, Tanya and Rachel Haden sound as sweet as cool, fresh cider. A clip from the old Haden Family Radio Show shows the heritage that gave birth to so much diverse talent. It's a better heir to WILL THE CIRCLE BE UNBROKEN.

I'm totally in love with these recordings and paraphrasing Garrison Keeler, "...and oh, aren't they tasty!"
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Long before he became a legendary jazz bassist, Charlie Haden was Little Yodeling Cowboy Charlie. He began his professional career in the late 1930s, not quite two years old, singing old-time gospel and country on the radio with his parents and siblings throughout the South and Midwest. (One of his very early performances is on the next-to-last track of this CD.) He did that for thirteen years; then, at age 15, polio weakened his voice, leaving him to focus on the instrument that led him to jazz fame. He long had in mind to return to his musical beginnings and renew the legacy of family performance with his own children. In January, 2008, at age 70, it finally happened.

A lot of the great country and bluegrass players love jazz, so Haden had a fan club in Nashville ready to help out. It's a dream band. Jerry Douglas plays Dobro on almost every track. Stuart Duncan plays fiddle on most. On mandolin, Sam Bush plays on about half, Dan Tyminski on a couple, and Ricky Skaggs on a couple--Skaggs also plays a fretless banjo on one. Béla Fleck adds his banjo on another. Bryan Sutton and Russ Barenberg trade off on acoustic guitar, with John Leventhal stepping in for his wife Rosanne Cash's number. Buddy Greene adds harmonica on a couple cuts. Haden's friend Bruce Hornsby plays piano on a few.

A non-Nashviller in the instrumental mix is Haden's close friend and musical collaborator Pat Metheny, who plays his electric guitar on over a third of the pieces and contributes an instrumental track of his own.

And of course, on every track is Charlie Haden with his massive, sonorous double bass (except on the track from around 1940 where he just sings).
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From the very first toe-tapping track "Single Girl, Married Girl" you know this is going to be a very different music experience from the over-produced, electronic pop of today. And I must say that in the end, this collection more than delivers a thoroughly entertaining journey that reaches across the traditional boundaries of folk, bluegrass, gospel, and country.

Many times, I shy away from collaborations with famous artists as the results can be forced, commercialized, or inconsistent. And while this album has plenty of famous artists (Vince Gill, Bruce Hornsby, Rosanne Cash, Elvis Costello, Pat Metheny), in the end they are just visitors.

It is Charlie Haden and his family who really sets this apart, providing consistency and talent with an unvarnished, heartfelt performance that warms your soul. In fact, were it not for the crisp vocals and lush instrumentation, you could almost imagine sitting in the Haden living room with many famous guests.

Charlie Haden is considered one of the best jazz bassists of all time, but this album hearkens back to his roots as a young boy whose musical family played country and folk songs on the radio. One track on this album is from the Old Haden Family Show, has a 2-year old Charlie yodeling (cira 1939).

Now, it is Charlie and his family performing together: his wife Ruth Cameron, son Josh on bass, triplets Tanya, Petra, and Rachel, along with Tanya's husband Jack Black. And wow do they deliver.

Not every track is as fast-paced as "Single Girl..." or "Oh Take Me Back". One of the most powerful tracks is the Irish Folk song "The Fields of Athenry" with the mesmerizing vocals of Petra Haden with a fresh instrumental reinterpretation that grabs your soul.
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Charlie Haden has built a storied career as a jazz bassist both on his own and as a member of groups fronted by Ornette Coleman and Keith Jarrett. But he actually got his start at a very young age as a performer in The Haden Family, doing traditional bluegrass and Appalachian folk songs. His career has been distinguished by genre-bending, groundbreaking projects, but he also collaborated several years ago with Pat Metheny on the Americana-flavored "Beyond the Missouri Sky (Short Stories)". So those who really know his musical history won't be surprised by this release of mostly traditional country music. Mr. Haden goes way back to his roots, with the help of famous friends like Bela Fleck, Bruce Hornsby, Elvis Costello, Roseanne Cash, Pat Metheny, Ricky Skaggs, Vince Gill, and son-in-law Jack Black. Family members are on hand too, keeping that "family band" tradition alive: triplet daughters Petra, Tanya and Rachel Haden, and son Josh, all of whom have had respectable music careers in their own right. (Tanya's the one married to Jack Black, in case you're wondering.)

For the most part, these performances will remind you of the original Grand Ole Orpy, or the "O Brother Where Art Thou?" soundtrack, but once in a while a little jazz sneaks in, like Pat Metheny's guitar on "The Fields of Athenry". There is also the topical original tune "Is This America? (Katrina 2005)". The instrumental work is first-rate, the vocals at times sublime, especially the harmony of the Haden triplets, and the sound is impeccable. That's my only quibble - sometimes the music seems too perfect and respectful, and seldom really gets into foot-stompin' territory, with the exception of Jack Black, who does a rough-and-ready rendition of "Old Joe Clark". The album closes with an old recording of two-year-old(!
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