I think I may have mentioned once or twice that Saturday's when I was growing up was Opera day on the radio. New York Met in the afternoon and Nashville's Grand Old in the evening. I tended to lean towards the classical and my father enjoyed the country and western more but somehow the two coexisted in our household.
C & W was different in those days - it wasn't glitter and glamour, you wouldn't have seen Faron Young in a pouting pose wearing a wife beater nor would the antics of the Carters be found in gossip magazines. Funny was Minnie Pearl, sexy was ... well pretty much non-existent, harmonies were close and, though I don't even pretend to be an expert on C & W, the music was closer to its bluegrass, shape note and gospel roots. That was the 50s C & W sound and what entered my subconscious and probably accounts for my love of gospel music and bluegrass today.
I've also always enjoyed jazz - mostly vocal - but as long as its not too progressive instrumental as well. One of my favorites instrumentalist is bassist Charlie Haden. I came to him through his recordings with Pat Metheny particularly Beyond the Missouri Sky and the Hank Jones collaboration on Steal Away. And I've heard him with the Liberation Music Orchestra and as back up on so many jazz recordings. But though I knew his music I didn't know much about the man until I read about his latest release in Sunday's New York Times.
So what's this got to do with Country and Western you ask? Haden's roots are old style C & W, he was the youngest member of the Haden Family Singers debuting at the ripe-old aged of two. When he contracted polio at 15 his singing career was cut short. His new album Rambling Boy was released this morning - I had it preordered, downloaded and on my I-pod by 0800 Rome time - and is a return to his family tradition of bluegrass, gospel and early country and western.
Again it follows the tradition of a family effort - his son Josh, daughters Petra, Tanya and Rachel join him, Vince Gill, Roseanne Cash, Ricky Skaggs, Jack Black (yes that Jack Black - Haden's son-in-law,) Elvis Costello, Bruce Hornsby, Metheny and a host of first class musicians.
I've listened to it twice today and its already programmed into my favorites. My own particular pleasures are the incredible close harmony numbers by Haden's daughters, Roseanne Cash's Wildwood Flower and a Metheny-Haden collaboration called Is This America? (Katerina 2005). And perhaps the most touching is Haden himself giving voice to Shanendoah 56 years after his vocal career was cut short.
I still haven't learned how to load up audio files but there are some samples of what's on the album over at Charlie Haden Family and Friends.
23 settembre - San Pio da Pietrelcina