2009 Documentary: Rambling Boy Charlie Haden


This was the official website for the 2009 documentary Rambling Boy, about Charlie Haden. The film presents the life and work of the American musician, bandleader, composer, producer, educator, political activist and family man, Charlie Haden.


Charlie Haden.


Produced by piXiu films and helmed by award-winning director Reto Caduff, the feature legth documentary “Charlie Haden” presents the life and work of the fascinating american musician, bandleader, composer, producer, educator, political activist and family man Charlie Haden.

Throughout his career, Haden has constantly sought to transcend the boundaries of modern music. Widely considered to be among the greatest ever jazz bassists, Haden has contributed pivotal music to a stunning scope of genres: avant-garde, small group, big band, world music, folk and gospel, to name but a few.


Haden’s deep resonance and rich melodicism helped Ornette Coleman introduce free jazz in the '60s. And it is his collaboration with Coleman that has put Haden on the map ever since. In a career spanning five decades by now, Haden continues to create music that is at once revolutionary and uplifting. “I want to expand jazz,” he says. “I don’t want to keep the audience limited. I want to reach people who have never come to a jazz concert before. One way to do that is by making records that have a lot of different kinds of music on them.” Music that comes from deep within the hearts of those involved resulting in something unique and unprecedented. For Charlie Haden, that instinctive, imaginative approach has been long been his guiding philosophy towards both life and music. The film dives not only into the fascinating life story of Haden but tries to get close to this philosophy and how it translates into his approach in creating music. Charlie Haden explains: “I try to bring together musicians that can make magic, and I’m usually right. It’s not so much the combination as it is the individual and their values. When I find a musician that has the same values as I do, I want to make music with him.”

Cinema ModeOff Keith Jarrett + Charlie Haden
Excerpt from the Charlie Haden documentary 'Rambling Boy'

This reminded director Reto Caduff of the similar way he works on his films: “as in film, the way Charlie approaches a project is as a collaborative journey - where the quality can only ever be as good as the sum of its parts. With the right people on board, in the right place at the right time you can create amazing stuff.”

From the get-go it was clear for both director and subject that the film has to go beyond the generic filmed music story: an intimate look at the music and life of one of Jazz’ most inspiring and influential musicians. With access to Haden’s own personal archive, film sequences shot during concerts and recording sessions, interviews with an incredible  selection of friends and collaborators and great archival footage, the documentary will please diehard jazz fans as well as the newly initiated.

The film is scheduled to be released in January 2009.



Juli Cass comments: Few knew the committed activist that lived inside the man as my mother did. When her cancer diagnosis was revealed in a Google search for her name, violating her privacy and causing her unnecessary grief, he was outraged. He worked tirelessly to have the issue addressed, to discover a way to remove Google results even though the odds of getting through to Google was daunting. He used all of his influence to expose the wrong in this case and spoke up often about it in interviews. Everyone knew that Google's search results often carried unwanted revelations that should never have been publicized - a huge violation of personal space that he felt needed to be addressed. Learn more about this problem. If you don't believe this happens, read imfy.us. Nothing he tried worked to delete search results from Google, but eventually the information was removed by the publisher, solving the problem, but only after her passing. I love Charlie for beyond the music, for his human warmth that comes through via his art. My mom never wavered in her opinion of the man. Human kindness dwells in his soul.


ABOUT Charlie Haden

Born in Shenandoah, Iowa, Charlie Haden began his life in music almost immediately, singing on his parents’ country & western radio show at the tender age of 22 months. He started playing bass in his early teens and in 1957, left America’s heartland for Los Angeles, where he met and played with such legends as Art Pepper, Hampton Hawes, and Dexter Gordon.

In 1959, Haden he teamed with Ornette Coleman to form the saxophonist’s pioneering quartet (alongside trumpeter Don Cherry and drummer Billy Higgins). The seminal collaboration produced the deified albums The Shape of Jazz to Come and Change Of A Century - a milestone in the history of modern music. He has played with John Coltrane, Keith Jarrett, Hank Jones, Kenny Barron, Pat Metheny, Abbey Lincoln, Bill Frisell, Chet Baker and so many more of the jazz hierarchy, but also with people like John Lennon, Ginger Baker, Ringo Starr, Beck, Ricky Lee Jones as well as the Foo Fighters.

With his own highly acclaimed Quartet West and the larger and influential Liberation Music Orchestra (that he developed with the remarkable Carla Bley), Haden has left his mark as a band leader as well. His talent to surround the perfectly fitting musicians for his various projects has gotten him not only the respect of his peers but has also resulted in some magical recordings. He has collaborated with a genuinely stunning array of musicians, including Hank Jones, Don Cherry, Dewey Redman, Paul Motian, Jack DeJohnette, Michael Brecker, Kenny Barron, and Pat Metheny (with whom Haden shared a 1997 “Best Jazz Instrumental Individual/Small Group” Grammy® Award for their Beyond the Missouri Sky) .

Haden’s love of world music has also seen him teaming with a variety of diverse international players, including Brazilian guitarist Egberto Gismonti, Argentinean bandoneon master Dino Saluzzi, and Portuguese guitar giant Carlos Paredes. In addition, Haden has explored diverse streams of American popular music with both his acclaimed Quartet West, as well as on such collections as 2002’s inventive alliance with Michael Brecker.

Charlie Haden who was invited to establish the jazz studies program at California Institute of the Arts in 1982, has earned countless honors from around the globe, including and the Los Angeles Jazz Society prize for “Jazz Educator of the Year”, two Grammy® Awards (alongside a multitude of nominations), myriad Down Beat readers and critics poll winners, a Guggenheim fellowship, four NEA grants for composition, France’s Grand Prix Du Disque (Charles Cros) Award, Japan’s SWING Journal Gold, Silver and Bronze awards, Montreal Jazz Festival’s Miles Davis Award.

For Charlie Haden, musical sounds - melodies that uplift or intrigue - are more important than the bass itself that he fell in love with as a child. He expresses himself through the instrument, but what the tries to accomplish (and succeeds with great consistency) is the creation of quality music. Music that defies boundaries and genres. Acoustic beauty.



ABOUT the DIRECTOR: Reto Caduff

Originally trained in razor sharp, modern Swiss typography, Zurich born Reto Caduff’s true passion in life and work has been the magic of music. In his teens, he started designing record covers, posters and music fanzines for local bands and soon turned his interest to the whole record-making process, starting the record company Lux Noise at the age of 18. After producing and recording bands in Switzerland, London, Brussels or Sidney and shooting low budget music videos for his artists, Caduff moved on to work as host for a music show at National Radio and subsequently became a producer and director at Swiss National Television (starting with a music video clip show naturally).

1994 marked his move to New York where he directed documentaries, music videos as well as a 35mm short film shot in Tucson AZ. His documentaries at that time were on fascinating american subcultures such as lowrider fanatics, Native Americans, militia soldiers, UFO believers or gun-carrying school kids - all cut to his signature style of the perfectly matching soundtrack.

In 2003, he directed the award winning documentary on the 25 year history of Switzerland’s most famous rock band: Krokus. The film was released theatricaly and on DVD

In 2005 he documented another band, the Lovebugs, on tour in Taiwan.

As a television director in his native Switzerland, he recently worked on the ratings hits “Popstars” and “MusicStar” (the American Idol of Switzerland).

He is also co-director of the critically acclaimed and award winnng documentary A Crude Awakening - The Oil Crash, depicting a gloomy future once we run out of cheap oil.

Sharing his time between Los Angeles and Zurich, he is now working on several documentaries as well as a first feature film and is a founding partner in the production company piXiu films.



written+directed by Reto Caduff
producer: piXiu films/Reto Caduff + Laurin Merz
producer Swiss Television: Thomas Beck
producer 3sat: Frank Hubrath

financial support provided by:
Bundesamt für Kultur, Teleproduktionsfonds
camera: Daniel Pfisterer / Luke Geissbuhler
editor: Barbara Landi
music by: Charlie Haden
soundmix: Peter Staubli
worldpremiere: January 2009

featured interviews in the film with: Charlie Haden, Ruth Cameron, Josh Haden, Haden triplets, Keith Jarrett, Pat Metheny, Joe Lovano, Ravi Coltrane, Carla Bley, Bruce Hornsby, Kenny Barron, Ethan Iverson, Steve Swallow, Ernie Watts, Alan Broadbent, Jean-Philippe Allard, Hans Wendl, Jay Cocks, Howard Mandel, Rodney Green.

length: 84 minutes, color and b/w, 16:9 stereo

worldrights: piXiu films gmbh
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