Music Reports

Liberation Music Orchestra


Fifth Estate # 96, January 8-21, 1970

Charlie Haden—Liberation Music Orchestra Arrangements by Carla Bley. Impulse AS 9183


Perry Robinson, clarinet; Gato Barbieri, tenor saxophone and clarinet; Dewy Redman, alto and tenor saxophones; Don Cherry, cornet, Indian wood and bamboo flutes; Mike Mantler, trumpet; Roswell Rudd, trombone; Bob Northern, French horn, hand wood blocks, crow call, bells, and military whistle; Howard Johnson, tuba; Paul Motian, percussion instruments; Andrew Cyrille, percussion instruments; Sam Brown, guitar, Tanganyikan guitar, thumb piano; Carla Bley, piano, tambourine; Charlie Haden, bass violin.


For years the portrait of our society has been drawn musically as if in a disguise of carefully concealed rhetorical whim. To curve space. Question: can any hippie musician curve space? To bend the imagination to the proper distances. Breath. Body and breath brought together. Swords and teeth gnashing together at the speed it takes about a million pigs to oink twice. Distances; the space from your nose to a club on the head. Jungle mist, rain, grass moving to the slim motion of a wild fawn, twisting. Che Guevara. Reminiscence of Spanish Civil War. Lincoln Brigade. Three thousand men from the United States volunteered for service in the Spanish Republic. Only “the combined forces of Franco, Hitler, and Mussolini to defeat the Spanish Republic. The people’s struggle for freedom lives on in the songs”: “Song of the United Front” (by Hans Eisler; words by Bertold Brecht), “El Quinto Regimiento” (The Fifth Regiment), “Los Cuatro Generales” (The Four Generals), “Viva La Quince Brigada” (Long Live the Fifteenth Brigade), “The Ending to the First Side” (by Carla Bley).


Portraiture. For years this society has been drawn as if in a disguise. Carefully concealed whim, rhetorical space. In “Circus” ’68 ’69 (by Charlie Haden; Liberation Music Co., BMI.) the bands were divided into two separate orchestras in order to recreate what was happening in our country politically. Social portraiture, body image, ghostly pale. Spirit of the people stronger than the Man’s technology.

“The music in this album is dedicated to creating a better world; a world without war and killing, without racism, without poverty and exploitation; a world where men of all governments realize the vital importance of life and strive to protect rather than to destroy it. We hope to see a new society of enlightenment and wisdom where creative thought becomes the most dominant force in all people’s lives.”

—Charlie Haden

Image chunks. A carefully aimed universal rising ARM in ARM. Vietnam vs. Chicago? Yr local police against the NATIONAL LIBERATION FRONT?


A portrait of society has been disguised as has been drawn. Notable exception was Francisco Goya. Goya put meat image on record, visible visions sliced out of fragile materials, war, blood & swords & stump of arm, on papers & canvases. In the process of showing a public place, public torture, he transformed that public space (naked lunch), into a private dream space. Light, in truth, takes away much of what we see (space). In the hand of a painter such as Goya, the heat of a battle is very hot. Such is the Liberation Music Orchestra’s view. But we now see crowds of people and their faces aren’t as readily recognizable, the cry comes from the torturer as well as the tortured. Through the seeming chaos and destruction, we see the outlines of a newer future.

The people, doing their battle for liberation, learn song. The shapes of this music are true to the time. The process of history is shaped and rendered as such. There is battle, presently, at certain points and levels. This record testifies to that fact. And, every time, while playing it and listening to it, we help to continue the existence of these thoughts and actions, these understandings.

Listen, then, to the evil which dwells in all our hearts. And having heard, can possibly march with all peace loving men & women, everywhere, to throw the tyrants, torturers, the racism, the poverty and exploitation, out on its ear and “hope to see a new society for enlightenment and wisdom where creative thought becomes the most dominant force in all people’s lives.”