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Liberation Music Orchestra

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Biography

Liberation Music Orchestra is a large jazz ensemble led by US-American jazz bassist Charlie Haden. The ensemble has been an occasional operation, with shifting personnel. Aside from Charlie Haden, composer and arranger Carla Bley has had a great impact on the ensemble as she composed and arranged many of the group’s works. The ensemble’s music was very experimental in its earlier decades. Through Bley’s arranging, the performances have concentrated on a wide palette of brass instruments, including tuba, French horn, and trombone, in addition to the more standard trumpet and reed section.

The ensemble’s pieces have reflected the left-wing political concerns of Charlie Haden. Examples of these concerns have been the Spanish Civil War, the Vietnam War and 1980s/1990s Central American struggles against US-backed military dictatorships. The ensemble has explored the realms of free jazz and political music at the same time; specifically, the ensemble’s first, self-titled album focused on the Spanish Civil War. The Liberation Music Orchestra’s 1983 album The Ballad of the Fallen commented again on the Spanish Civil War as well as the political instability and US involvement in Central America. In 1990 the orchestra returned with Dream Keeper, a more heterogeneous album which drew on American gospel music and South African music to comment on politics in Latin America and apartheid in South Africa. The album featured choral contributions from the Oakland Youth Chorus.

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