The career of Eddie DeHaas is a travel odyssey with not every terminus a familiar one for jazz players. The bassist, whose recording partners include the marvelous female singer Chris Connor, the tortured trumpeter and singer Chet Baker, and the rip-roaring tenor saxophonist Von Freeman, is one of very few jazzmen who hail from Java. He was always a stringed instrument enthusiast, his development basically a matter of going from smallest to biggest. DeHaas was playing ukulele as a ten-year-old; a few years later he was playing guitar in Hawaiian music combos. By the second half of the '40s, he had been exposed to jazz and liked what he heard. He moved to the Netherlands in 1951 and was henceforth a bassist, working with a variety of European and American performers active on the continent.
He fit well into many types of rhythm sections, including the traditional swing of trumpeter Bill Coleman and the expansive pianistics of Martial Solal. From the mid-'50s he became a regular with the aforementioned Baker on the star trumpeter's wanderings through Iceland, Germany, and Italy. DeHaas had his own band as well in his last years of European residence; he moved to the United States in 1957, performing and recording with both Terry Gibbs and Miles Davis, among others, in 1957. The bassist, who often acknowledged that his major influence was guitarist Charlie Christian, became a favorite of stylistically vivid vocalists.
He also continued to work regularly in European nations such as France, taking on the often drastically different demands of bandleaders from many eras in jazz. If that wasn't tough enough, DeHaas also wound up backing up the folk act Peter, Paul & Mary in the '60s. A development of obviously much more personal importance during the early part of that decade involved DeHaas meeting and marrying singer Geraldine Bey, a member of the vocal trio known as Andy & the Bey Sisters. The couple moved to Chicago in 1968 and have sired musically and theatrically talented offspring, Aisha DeHaas and Darius DeHaas. From his Windy City perch, the bassist has been able to collaborate with interesting modern jazz players such as Freeman and pianist Jodie Christian. Bey's own talented siblings include singer and pianist Andy Bey and singer Salome Bey.