Sean Haefeli
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Sean Haefeli

Chicago, Illinois, United States

Chicago, Illinois, United States
Band Jazz Singer/Songwriter

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"Nu Soul Magazine"

Sean Haefeli’s independently released four-song EP, Sound Strategy, portrays a skilled and passionate musician who strives to put his
best foot forward using nothing more or less than he’s always known to be true to his core being. His sound is founded in the jazz he
spent his childhood years exposed to, and rounded out by hints of hip-hop, soul, groove, and electronic that defined the culture of his
generation. His belief in open sincerity comes across in his music, lyrics, and the personal character drawn from each song.
Mellow pianos, horns, and bass maintain an easy feel throughout the CD. Yet as a testament to the urbanism of Haefeli’s generation,
the vocals are extremely rhythmic (a distraction from his lack of pure singing ability) and decidedly hip-hop, laced with an underlying
degree of forwardness and aggression.
Although Haefeli describes his album as a “fusion of jazz, soul, hip-hop, and modern groove” the sound is mainly grounded in jazz,
the likes of which his father played professionally and Sean himself was educated formerly. It’s as if Haefeli purposely avoids venturing
into anything too modern or commercial, instead sticking to the roots he knows for sure make him content. The drums and bass parlay
into deeper grooves and hip-hop style rhythms on occasion, but mostly remain true to his musical background.
The final track, Balance, is the greatest exception, best described as a mish-mash of styles on every level. Every instrument as it is
played in the song, from the drums to the horns to the vocals would fit into a jazz or soul piece as easily it would a rap song.
Much like Sean portrays himself, the album makes the best of what jazz and its adjacent genres have to offer. The result should be
equally familiar to yesteryear’s jazz enthusiasts and today’s hip-hop, spoken word, soul, and new groove fans.

- Nokware Knight


"Mercdes-Benz"

Whether obscure, warm, aggressive or soulful, Sean Haefeli’s music is a testament to the breadth and depth of his creative background.
Fusing jazz, soul, hip-hop and other modern groove traditions, the results are a fresh, intense and challenging mix of all the different,
stimulating directions life has thrown him.
Born in Indianapolis and raised in Chicago (USA), Haefeli’s mother was a singer/songwriter, while his father played the trumpet for Bill
Chase, Frank Sinatra Jr., the Ebony Rhythm Funk Campaign and ‘other gigs too jive to mention at the local Playboy club. Trained as a
classical pianist, Sean’s first tape might have been L.L. Cool J., yet later on he entered university as an opera major, graduated with a
degree in English literature and finally decided to immerse himself in jazz and improvisation.
2002 saw the release of his album debut ‘Natural Hunger’, triggering references to the Last Poets, Roberta Flack, Michael Franti, ’soft
jazz crooners and even old school rhythm and blues masters.’
Three years ago, he decided to channel his energies into the Sean Haefeli Project to integrate electronic elements with bass, drums,
keys, vocals and horns. Adapting a visionary blend of jazz, soul and electronic that departs from established structural and lyrical
conventions, the metrically shape-shifting ‘Off-Speed’ is just one example of this latest project.
For more unpredictable delights, check out ‘Sound Strategy’ (2006) or visit his website for more recent sound experiments.


- Mixed Tape


"Just Soul"

With a deep voice, jazz sound and thought-provoking lyrics, which can be heard in spoken word, rap or singing styles, the Sean
Haefeli Project, is solo artist, Sean Haefeli’s most recent recording, entitled ‘Sound Strategy’. His musical influences vary from L.L Cool
J’s cassette tapes, to the sophisticated sounds of The Last Poets, Robert Flack, Michael Franti, and other soft soul/jazz artists of that
period. This latest album makes audiences aware that he is no old school music folk, giving him a new name, The Sean Haefeli Project,
already providing us with evidence of his new creative direction. The EP ‘Sound Strategy’, has four songs, refreshing to the ears, with a
talented live band. Sean Haefeli himself, delivers tongue twister style lyrics in different vocal capabilities, Sean Haefeli is obviously a
man who has a great appreciation for music, the EP has head nodding jazz grooves, to soul surrendering fender Rhodes keyboards. - Matthew Daniel


"Dusty Groove"

A long-overdue return by this up-and-coming Chicago talent — and a really amazing batch of tracks! It’s been a number of years since
we last heard from singer Sean Haefeli — but he’s really been using that time to develop his groove tremendously! The sound here is
much jazzier than on Haefeli’s debut — but it’s also not strictly a jazz album — because Sean uses jazz vocal roots, and fuses them to
a hipper 21st Century sense of rhythm — one that’s really amazing, and which brings fresh surprises with each new track on the EP!
There’s only 4 tracks here, but they’re all pretty darn great — provided with live instrumental backings by a small combo, but coming
off with a deftly creative flair that reminds us of some of the best contemporary work coming from the London scene. Titles include
“Off Speed”, “Speaking Of Race”, “Stimulus”, and “Balance”. - Sound Strategy


"CD Baby"

“An equal meeting of humming, thinking, classy jazz courting a sly, slippery, fluid package of urban soul. This man can conjure stored music memories of Michael Franti, Seal, and the Last Poets, soft jazz crooners and even old school rhythm and blues masters. Supporting the bridge between the genres which have never seemed so compatible and complementary are his substantial, centered vocals, aimed from the gut. There's not a doubt that his music is committed, intent on solidifying its vibe. ‘Natural Hunger’ speaks to a human longing and goes out of its way to satisfy it.” - Natural Hunger


"ContemporaryJazz.com"

“on the cutting edge, lyrically and instrumentally. I love it.” - Rob Young


"Dusty Groove"

“A pretty interesting CD from Chicago vocalist Sean Haefeli -- a blend of jazz and soul with a wickedly contemplative finish! The work's very subtle -- kind of sneaking up on you in a mix of small combo instrumentation that features some really nice piano by Sean, vocals adrift a bit -- sometimes spoken, almost in a beat jazz approach, at other times bubbling up with the mellow warmth of an early album by Roberta Flack. Haefeli's got a big vision here, and although the CD's got a few rough edges, it's clear that he's heading into rich territory -- and will be a singer to keep our eyes on in coming years!” - Natural Hunger


"Black Girls Rule! Mag"

Sean Haefeli a native of Chicago is an artist that is focused, structured and uncompromising. His style inflicts personality, charisma, emotion, character and most of all originality.

By no means a traditional artist, Haefeli risks his soul if only to keep the soul and passion in his music. Think Seal and Last poets mixed in with Sly and the Family Stone and you have one hell of an artist that simply “brings it” while never compromising his integrity. This CD is not for the traditional “music head” but more for the “escape artist” who wants to lavish themselves in pure unadulterated blues and soul.

Natural Hunger says it all in its title. With its ear tingling verses Sean simply draws you in and bares his soul never once leaving you astray. What a beautiful inside view into a man who wants only to take you where he’s been and how he’s living. This is a rare find and definitely a keeper in my eyes. Sean Haefeli is an artist for all seasons. - Natural Hunger


Discography

Natural Hunger-02'
Sound Strategy-07'

Photos

Bio

Sean Haefeli is a forward-thinking musician, skilled as a pianist, vocalist, and composer. His music represents a convergence of sensibilities and aesthetics, as jazz, soul, and poetic lyricism intersect, creating a distinctively modern sound.

Throughout his youth, Sean trained as a classical pianist, and later, a vocalist, while primarily listening to hip-hop and r&b. He continued to navigate seemingly disparate worlds, entering Depaul University as an opera major, and graduating with a degree in English literature. He cultivated an appreciation for a diverse range of poets, and regularly appeared on Chicago’s spoken word scene. After graduation, he immersed himself in jazz and improvisation, working in a range of performance mediums and styles, while further widening his listening sphere.

In 2002, Sean released Natural Hunger, an eclectic and personal journey, rendered in an acoustic setting. This promising debut triggered references to the Last Poets, Roberta Flack, Michael Franti, “soft jazz crooners and even old school rhythm and blues masters.”

During 2005, Sean began assembling the pieces to realize his latest vision, the Sean Haefeli Project. At that time, the group consisted of vocals, keys, brass, with electronic beats and textures. As time went on, the group evolved, expanding with the addition of a drummer and bass player, balancing the live elements with subtle electronics. In 2006, the group began recording sessions. The result was Sound Strategy, an album which mixes urban edge and soul, with a jazz ethos. The album integrates metric shape-shifting, adept lyricism, deceptive melodies, and harmonic intricacies, counterbalancing these elements with passion, flow and groove.

Over the last few years, Sean has traveled extensively. Piano/vocal contracts have taken him to S. Korea for three months and Japan for another six. He spent six months living in France, and for the rest of the time, bounced between Indianapolis, Chicago, and San Francisco. In addition, Mercedes-Benz awarded Sean with a licensing deal for the use of “Off-Speed,” from Sound Strategy. He was also featured on two releases of the Mercedes-Benz Mixed Tape. Apollinaris, known in German-speaking countries as the “Queen of table waters,” licensed Natural Hunger’s “Bedroom Window” for a compilation, which also featured tracks by Jazzanova and Ella Fitzgerald.

Recently, insightful reviews have captured the honest originality his music. Nu Soul Magazine writes, "Sound Strategy portrays a skilled and passionate musician, who strives to put his best foot forward using nothing more or less than he’s always known to be true to his core being . . . Much like Sean portrays himself, the album makes the best of what jazz and its adjacent genres have to offer." Black Girls Rule! Magazine lauds:

"Natural Hunger says it all in its title. With its ear tingling verses Sean simply draws you in and bares his soul, never once leaving you astray. What a beautiful inside view into a man who wants only to take you where he’s been and how he’s living. This is a rare find and definitely a keeper in my eyes. Sean Haefeli is an artist for all seasons."

Beyond his life as a musician, Sean’s image has been used by fashion brands, such as Nike, Louis Vutton, Jockey, Somewhere (FR), as well as being featured in commercial and radio campaigns across the United States.

In the Fall of '09, Sean will continue formal academic studies. Having been accepted to the Manhattan School of Music, on voice, and Indiana University, as a pianist, he has chosen to study at IU. At a time when many artists would be content to focus on their careers, Sean has chosen to follow the path which will push him to keep expanding on his instrument, and equip him with the knowledge and resources to remain creative throughout his musical life.