Obama and the Liberation Music Orchestra


One of the best US election night stories I’ve read is about Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra, in Salon. The writer is the music journalist Larry Blumenfeld. The Liberation Music Orchestra was founded by Haden as a protest in the depths of the Vietnam War, and recorded their fourth record, Not In Our Name, in 2004 after the invasion of Iraq. (And it’s good for once not to be writing about a musician because they’ve died…). Anyway, here’s the story:

On Tuesday night, Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra — the band that bassist Haden first assembled in 1968 and has reconvened during each Republican administration — had just ended Carla Bley’s “Blue Anthem” during a late set at Manhattan’s Blue Note when Allen Broadbent (subbing for Bley) jumped up from the piano bench.

“Obama has won!”

Someone had whispered the news in Broadbent’s ear, along with the Democratic electoral-vote total at 11:20 p.m. (It was 297 and counting.)

“Are you sure?” Haden asked, clutching his bass.

Broadbent nodded.

“Man!” Haden sighed with force. He stood silent a few moments. “I guess it’s time to play ‘Amazing Grace.'”

And they did.

(You can hear music from their 1969 LP online here. Parts of tracks from Not In Our Name, including Amazing Grace, can be heard here).


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