Charles Edward Haden (born August 6, 1937) is an American jazz musician. He is a double bassist, probably best known for his long association with saxophonist Ornette Coleman. Haden is also known for his signature lyrical bass lines and is one of the most respected bassists and jazz composers today.
Haden was born in Shenandoah, Iowa, and raised in a musical family, which often performed together on the radio playing country music and American folk songs. Haden made his professional debut as a singer when he was two years old, and continued singing with his family until he contracted a mild form of polio when he was 15. The polio damaged his throat muscles and vocal cords, and as a result, Haden was unable to control his pitch while singing. A few years before contracting polio, Haden had become interested in jazz, and began playing his older brother's double bass. Eventually he set his sights on Los Angeles, and to save money for the trip took a job as house bassist for ABC-TV's Ozark Jubilee.
Haden moved to LA in 1957, and quickly began playing professionally, including stints with pianist Hampton Hawes and saxophonist Art Pepper. He began playing with Ornette Coleman in the late 1950s, culminating with The Shape of Jazz to Come. This album was released to much controversy at the time, and Haden himself remarked that the harmolodic style of playing was so confusing to him at first that he resigned himself to repeating Coleman's lines on the bass. It was only later that he had enough confidence to start playing his own lines during the performances.