Charlie Haden

Charlie Haden’s bass is a political instrument in all settings. His Midwestern, melancholic, ruminative playing has such a quiet purity of intent and feeling that it castigates the world for its shams just by existing. That’s been true since he was inaugurating free jazz with Ornette Coleman up through his more recent revivals of sentimental mid-century movie soundtracks. This large band, which Haden has led off and on since the Vietnam era, addresses politics more directly, and is back on the scene for a new era of protest. With richly drawn arrangements by the idiosyncratic pianist Carla Bley, the orchestra has released a disc called Not in Our Name, which draws on gospel and ethnic music of many varieties while exploring military motifs and patriotic anthems like “America the Beautiful.” As with a lot of explicitly political art, there are moments that verge on the trite, but at its best this fantastic 11-piece, world-ranging orchestra answers our wayward leaders with an earnest beauty that’s undebatable. They’re likely to be a highlight among the no fewer than 16 shows being presented through Nov. 9 by the ongoing Earshot Jazz Festival. MARK D. FEFER

Fri., Oct. 31, 8 p.m., 2008

 
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