May 25, 2015
Today is Memorial Day in America, a time to pause and reflect on those in our armed forces who paid the ultimate price in serving their country. Formerly known as Decoration Day, it originated after the American Civil War to commemorate fallen Union soldiers. By the 20th century Memorial Day had been extended to honor all Americans who have died in all wars.
Other than arrangements of certain military anthems and patriotic songs, there are not a lot of appropriate songs to post on a jazz blog for this solemn day. So, in the spirit of world-wide empathy, here is Charlie Haden's Liberation Music Orchestra and "The Ballad of the Fallen".
Recorded in 1982 and released the next year, this avant-garde big band recorded their version of songs from the Spanish Civil War and other 20th century civil conflicts in Latin America, including the controversial revolutions in Chile and El Salvador. “The Ballad of the Fallen” is a reworked version of a folk song from El Salvador, which includes a song by Sergio Ortega called “The People United Will Never Be Defeated”, with an original introduction penned by Carla Bley.
The album was the winner of Down Beat's 1984 Critic's Poll as
Best Album of 1983. Band members included Carla Bley (piano);
Charlie Haden (bass); Don Cherry (pocket trumpet); Jim Pepper
(flute and saxophone); Paul Motian (drums); Dewey Redman (tenor
sax); and Mick Goodrick (guitar).