United by a shared passion for the music of Charlie Haden, Iconoclast Petra Haden joined forces with local bass master Nick Haywood and some of Australia’s finest jazz artists to celebrate the music of her father. Part of Melbourne’s International Jazz Festival, Songs From My Father brought to life an eclectic selection of Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra tunes.
As Petra Haden walked into the stage of JazzLab, a quaint live-music venue in the heart of Brunswick, the room grew quiet with expectation. After all, this was the daughter of Charlie Haden, one of jazz’s founding fathers. Petra closed her eyes shyly, hiding behind her loose blue dress and the drag of a jetlag, and welcomed the audience not with words, but with a melody. Her voice resonated in JazzLab’s walls (which has immaculate acoustics) and, like a blanket, held our souls.
Through the next hour and a half, the band took us through a journey through time. As they played, people’s souls left their seats and joined in an ethereal dance. A woman swayed from side to side in front of me, a man tapped his knee, another, simply smiled and closed his eyes.
At one point, Petra forgot the words to a song. “Fuck!” and then, Charlie in her own voice: “Language, Petra! What are you doing? Grab a hold of yourself!” The laugh of an audience who has been there, done that. “It’s the jetlag” (yeah, right). In the end, Petra shared with us the love that her father put into his songs and reinterpreted those songs before our eyes; the intimacy of family emanating through her voice. It was as if Charlie was there, floating in the melodies.
And then, it dawned on me: this is what jazz is all about. Just like in a family, there was a certain chaos to each song; an underlying playfulness to the tunes. It was as if, despite the fact that the band was playing together, each of them was going on a slightly different journey, making the songs their own. And somehow, among the racket, freedom became harmony.
Lourdes Zamanillo is a Melbourne-infatuated journalist. Originally from Mexico, she loves words, travelling, and (above all) feeling surprised.
Songs From My Father was presented on 7 June 2019 at JazzLab as part as this year’s Melbourne International Jazz Festival.