One of the things Charlie talked about all the time was the importance of beauty in music — or perhaps more essentially, the power, the potential, and the necessity of music to create and preserve beauty in this world. In fact, Charlie spoke so often on this subject that I think some of us at times took it for granted — that we may not always have thoroughly marked the seriousness and sincerity of his words. Perhaps occasionally we even risked hearing it as a bit of a cliche.
But it wasn't a cliche. It was Charlie's truth. It was The Truth. And Charlie embodied, testified to that truth every time he picked up that bass. His playing was one of the fullest, most genuine expressions of beauty in jazz — exquisite lyricism; empathic harmony; boundless flexibility born out of improvisational generosity and intimacy; a selfless, embracing, huge-hearted groove.
Charlie had the biggest ears. He heard everything. He was right there with you every step of the way. And he took what he heard and helped you try to make something lovely out of it. He helped us chart a path toward the sublime. And it is maybe, just maybe, possible that every single note Charlie ever played was — through its own subtle force, its deceptively simple profundity — beautiful.
Charlie Haden has now left our world. But he hasn’t left us. For he leaves behind enough beauty to sustain us through this world, and the next.
July 12, 2014