Taylor Haskins
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Taylor Haskins


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"Review of 'American Dream'"

http://sunnysiderecords.com/reviews/Haskins-JT-0211.jpg - JazzTimes Magazine, 2/2011

"Review of "Recombination""

More than 40 years after In a Silent Way, the fusion genre is as ripe for updates as ever, what with musicians growing savvier in the application of electronics and ever more willing to approach jazz-rock less as a departure from the mainstream than an offshoot. With Miles in his heart and more recent influences in his head, trumpeter Taylor Haskins fashions a lyrical blend of electro and acoustic on Recombination, gracefully shifting emphasis from one to the other.

As you might guess from titles like “Here Is the Big Sky,” “Clouds From Below Us” and “Upward Mobility,” the music can be spacious and soaring, reflecting the airy, expansive harmonies Haskins played as a member of Maria Schneider’s orchestra. But Recombination has a toughness to go with its dreamy veneer: It’s grounded in the funkish strokes and shrewd syncopations of drummer Nate Smith, and marked by the precision and shifting time signatures Haskins (and Smith) have executed in the Dave Holland band.

A couple of the melodies flirt with smooth-jazz plasticity, and Haskins’ extensive background as a soundtrack artist sometimes tips the music too much toward atmospheric effects. But the filmic approach also lends a cohesive feel to the songs, which grow progressively darker and more reflective. Employing mutes and electronics—and, on the Brazilian-tinged finale, “Forgotten Memory of Something True,” melodica—Haskins effectively varies his attack. So does guitarist Ben Monder, who ranges from elegant single-note solos to moody horn-section-like chordings.
- JazzTimes Magazine, 9/2011

"Review of "Recombination""

What is immediate about Taylor Haskins’ sound is what made people perk up at the more recent emergence of musicians like trumpeter Christian Scott, and pianist Robert Glasper. Their youth combined with the individualism of their musicianship began to spread across the blogosphere and into the mainstream with an uproarious amount of forcefulness – a cool shower in a dense wave of relentless pulsating humidity. It probably did not hurt, in Glasper’s case, to have found a small portion of his uniqueness in the process of channeling the works of iconic hip-hop producer, J Dilla. Like his contemporaries, Haskins is not presenting sounds that are altogether unfamiliar, but they are the sonic equivalent of a breath of fresh air. In his case, that may have something to do with the individuality of his voice as a composer.

With his third release, Recombination, Haskins and his band perform with a bent for experimentation and a fearlessness that makes each track as memorable as it is important to jazz in the midst of its latest growth spurt; new musicians and bands have built brush fires across the performance scene and those ever-elusive Grammy statues are somehow falling into the hands of the oft-overlooked in a very palatable twist of fate for the masses of people waiting with baited breath for the return of live music on a scale rivaling the small clubs, underground performances, and rehearsals quietly breeding what could be considered a renaissance. Scads of musicians reclaiming and redefining one of America’s original and most iconic artforms, have made it their business to shirk conformity in composition as much as they have sought alternative means of getting their music to the masses.

People crave something substantial, and Taylor Haskins may not have picked a more perfect time to make as big a splash as Recombination is primed to make. Jazz, much like the rest of the music being produced and fed to the world, is at a point where labels and expectations matter much less than the sound produced, the passion behind it, and the feeling that those things impart to an audience. The band’s musicianship is simmered to a very potent concentrate – every cadence and note as refreshing and deliberate as the last. What we are left with is a sound without borders or yellowing edges, that is as much performance in deference to tradition as it is performance with a huge lack of regard for the limiting confines of playing by the book. Opening with “Morning Cadence”, the album will push the limitations of your woofers with a horn chorus punctuated by a deep cutting bassline that is equal parts sunrise, funeral dirge, and the last few moments of an orchestra tuning.

The band moves straight into “Here Is The Big Sky” with a brash guitar against a smooth silhouette of sound that has all of the density of a mudslide. In it there is the trickle of piano and Haskins peeking out from behind the heaving wall of noise to drop a gem of electricity that is as much Miles era electro-funk as it is reminiscent of Roy Hargrove’s not so distant effect-heavy Hardgroove. The use of effects pedals on brass and string instruments introduces a dynamic that can turn a straight-ahead theme into a crunchy warbling electric mutation of itself in mere seconds. Twelve tracks deep, it would seem that that kind of aesthetic could go sour quickly, but in the right hands it works. The addition of balls-out rock performance is not one to be taken lightly, as the theme envelopes and elevates the ear. If the purpose were to take you higher, it would be difficult to argue against Haskins’ success in this case.

Combine that with a very keen sense of rhythm and timing from drummer, Nate Smith, and what you have is an album full of drumming that while it is not excessively loud, is aggressive and full of the finesse it takes to handle the rich tones and buzzing sounds produced by band mates Henry Hey on keys, guitarist Ben Monder, and bassist Todd Sickafoose. Return To Forever would be quite proud of the music coming from Haskins and company. Every track on the album is single quality material; the music as impressive in casual listening environments as it is likely to be in performance. “Upward Mobility” is a showcase of jazz Funk trumpet over warm electric keys and Sickafoose’s unmistakably voluminous bassline. The elements are so simple, and yet they produce such a magically rich sound that continues with “The Shifting Twilight”, which is essentially Monder’s coming out party with guitar comfortably piloting much of the composition whenever he and Haskins are not trading places punctuating the rhythm.

The tracks on this portion of the release are very much reminiscent of the highly prized works from the catalogs of French band, Cortex and Philadelphia band, Catalyst. “A Lazy Afternoon”, ironically, is a track full of life and sounds very much like a composition born out of time the band may have spent shedding, ultimately ending up in a very productive zone and making the wise decision to record the results. While that may not be how it actually happened, the impromptu feeling of the track is a great break from the more deliberate and heavy themes on the album. Once “Lurking Shadows” begins it becomes even more likely that Haskins added the previous track in order to cleanse the listener’s palate, because the relentless electric bass and synth effects coming from keys and horns are a sonic TKO for anyone interested in challenging Haskins’ ability to be less big band and more bad man. “Mobius” is another major win for the rhythm section, especially bass and keys as Hey and Sickafoose create something that sounds like a musical attempt to build a world in a matter of notes. This particular track is constructed in what sound like a series of micro-movements that translate almost like listening to the birth and evolution of something very special. It may be possible that all of the music was composed with that kind of impact in mind. By the last track, Haskins stands at the helm of “Forgotten Memory…” and shines with the kind of finesse that allows him to make a bold statement without being over the top. Recombination is one of the most effective uses of a few tools and a handful of imagination; the musicians willing to push the limits of their instruments as much as they are willing to push themselves, as practitioners of experimental cool. - The Revivalist

"Review of "American Dream""

http://communities.canada.com/ottawacitizen/blogs/jazzblog/archive/2010/12/20/hornin-in-trumpet-cd-reviews.aspx - Ottawa Citizen, 12/10

"Review of "American Dream""

http://sunnysiderecords.com/reviews/Monder-DB-0810.jpg - Downbeat Magazine, 08/10

"Review of 'Wake Up Call'"

Some big thinking is evident here, but not of the traditional jazz type. Trumpeter Taylor Haskins obviously takes compositional inspiration from rock, film and electronic music, as well as jazz. Not the first player of his generation to do so, he's brought some like-minded friends along.
”You Have Everything You Need” begins in the Latin-epic arena, with guitarist-extraordinaire Ben Monder's strumming setting off Haskins, saxophonist Andrew Rathbun and violinist Regina Bellantese's unison theme. The tune calls for wide-spanned, lightning quick arpeggiation on guitar, so it's lucky Ben's handy. In consonantly cacophonous fashion, the band rides a wave of harmony set up by pianist Guillermo Klein, setting up “Equal Being,” a ballad having little to do with conventional jazz vocabulary and more to do with mood and repetitive snippets of melodicism. Often the bass doubles the piano line, only to then set it off for Haskins' muscularly lyrical solo. Rathbun's big-toned solo statement powerfully echoes Haskins' idea, after which they fittingly blow in unison. The overall effect is more powerful than the sum of its parts-epic rock balladry meets the jazzbo set.

This all leads to “Dream With You,” a more full-on pop trip featuring a Radiohead-like intro into a drum'n'bass feel, complete with laptopisms from Haskins, featuring female vocals by Aubrey Smith that serve a more atmospheric than content-driven function. This is certainly unlike anything previously issued on the FSNT imprint - in a good way! I really like what happens when the vocal drops out and Monder makes a super-clean-toned jazzy rock guitar statement over a Soul Coughing-like rhythm track. On this date, Ben goes a long way toward proving he's the most likely guitarist to fill in for Jonny Greenwood on a sick day.

The cruising “Nomad” sets up “Parking Lots,” another pop song, this time with deep Björk references. Theremin intros the tune to it's usual spooky effect, yielding to unison “strumming” by piano and guitar. Monder paints harmonic scenery for sensual vocals, a paragraph drenched in the poetry of dual-relationships, ceding to beautiful dual wordless vocalizations with trumpet.

Like the Bad Plus and other lesser-known jazzers, including Plus members and fellow FSNTers Ethan Iverson and Reid Anderson, Haskins' work tinkers with jazz forms, mingling them with rock ideas. These artists are forging something new, compelling and ear-grabbing having more to do with mood, hook and atmosphere than key centers, reharmonization and scale substitutions. The influence of artists like Radiohead and Björk, simply the most pervasive influences on current popular music, resonates profoundly on Haskins' improbably impressive debut, wherein traditional forms are discarded and the beauty of new forms revealed. - Phil DiPietro - allaboutjazz.com

""25 Trumpets for the Future""

Taylor Haskins has played in many of the large ensembles that matter, including the Dave Holland Big Band, Guillermo Klein's Los Guachos and the Maria Schneider Orchestra. "Those are three of my main influences composition-wise," he said. "In these groups, playing in unison with other musicians is one of the purest things you can do with a wind instrument." Haskins, 35, has also toured extensively with the explosive road band of Richard Bona. Originally from New Hampshire, where he grew up playing classical music, Haskins came to New YOrk to study with Lew Soloff at the Manhattan School of Music. He's gone on to forge alliance with such promising fellow bandleaders as Andrew Rathbun and Pablo Ablanedo. His two albums, Wake Up Call (2002) and Metaview (2006) reveal a probing, adroit lyricism and a gift for complex and imaginative composition. - David R. Adler - Downbeat Magazine

""Jazz in New Places""

excerpt: "Following the more esoteric opening act was Taylor Haskins’s “electro-acoustic” outfit Recombination, a group that specializes in solid, in-the-pocket grooves punctuated by shredding solos. Recombination’s fearsome lineup includes Haskins and drummer Nate Smith, members of the Grammy-winning Dave Holland Big Band, as well as New York heavyweights Ben Monder on electric guitar, Todd Sickafoose on upright bass, and Henry Hey on synth. The band’s basic formula layers electric and acoustic sounds over modal grooves in a variety of time signatures.

The ambient chatter at the Drom died down quickly as Recombination pushed through its set. Monder kicked up the delay and distortion to a more intense level than usual. Haskins ran his trumpet through a pedal that doubled the original note a fifth above, adding to the wave of electronically sculpted sound pulsing and glitching over the acoustic rhythm section. The five musicians on stage often sounded more like ten.

Recombination closed their set with an unexpected and impressive arrangement of the Aphex Twin song “Alberto Balsam.” The choice seemed in keeping with the general tone of the night: You can still find jazz that feels young, fresh, and playful if you know where to look." - The Brooklyn Rail

"Review of 'Metaview'"

Independent European jazz labels are not only valuable because of all the European improvisers they have documented, but also because of the many American jazz musicians they have recorded. In the 2000s, American trumpeter Taylor Haskins did some catalog building when the Barcelona, Spain-based Fresh Sound label released his albums Wake Up Call and Metaview. Despite some mildly funky moments and the use of electric keyboards at times (Haskins plays keyboards and percussion as secondary instruments), the fairly diverse Metaview (a late 2004 recording) is essentially post-bop rather than fusion. Haskins (who wrote all of the material himself) is at his funkiest on "Call Me Tomorrow" and "Itty Bitty Ditty" -- not funky in the down-home, grits-and-gravy way that the Crusaders, Grover Washington, Jr., Ronnie Laws, and Charles Earland were funky in the '70s, but funky in a more cerebral and angular way. Other times, however, Metaview is reflective and contemplative rather than funky -- and the word reflective easily describes Haskins' lyrical performances on "Moodring," "Biorhythm" (which wouldn't be out of place on a Tom Harrell album), "Interbeing," "Zuma," and "Cranes." Although Haskins' trumpet playing (which can be anything from abstract to mellifluous, depending on the mood he is in) is the disc's main attraction, his accompaniment should not go unmentioned. Metaview finds Haskins forming a cohesive quintet with tenor/soprano saxman Andrew Rathbun, guitarist Adam Rogers, double bassist Matt Penman, and drummer Mark Ferber, and the East Coast trumpeter enjoys a strong rapport with all of those players on this noteworthy CD. - All Music Guide

"Review of 'Wake Up Call'"

On Wake Up Call, East Coast improviser Taylor Haskins successfully wears a variety of hats -- not only trumpeter/soloist, but also producer, composer (he wrote all of the tunes himself), and bandleader/arranger. The team of players led by Haskins on this 2000 session points to the fact that one doesn't have to head a big band to provide complex, intricate ensemble work; Haskins generally oversees an octet, employing Andrew Rathbun on tenor and soprano sax, Ben Monder on guitar, Guillermo Klein on piano, Ben Street on bass, Regina Bellantese on violin, Yusuke Yamamoto on percussion, and Jeff Hirshfield on drums. Singer Aubrey Smith is featured on a few tracks (including the dusky "Parking Lots"), although Wake Up Call is mostly instrumental -- and this time, most of Haskins' instrumentals are on the cerebral side. Adjectives like cerebral, angular, and abstract easily apply to "Hecuba," "Nadar," and other post-bop pieces that he wrote for this album. Stylistically, Wake Up Call is perhaps best described as advanced post-bop that veers into mildly avant-garde territory at times. The material is never radically avant-garde -- certainly not the way that Anthony Braxton is radically avant-garde -- although Wake Up Call isn't an album of Young Lions playing Tin Pan Alley warhorses either. And whatever terminology one uses to describe Wake Up Call, Haskins is not dogmatic; Haskins uses a few synthesizers when he feels it is appropriate (something many Young Lions would never dream of doing), and even though Wake Up Call isn't fusion in the Al di Meola/Scott Henderson/Return to Forever sense, Haskins isn't afraid to inject some funk and rock overtones when the urge strikes him. Wake Up Call doesn't go out of its way to be accessible, but for those who aren't afraid of the abstract, it is a respectable demonstration of the type of ensemble work that Haskins is capable of. - All Music Guide

"Review of 'Metaview'"

(Translation from Italian by Sabrina Pagani)
What great funk that is mixed in with the modern jazz in the latest CD of Taylor Haskins. After much participation as part of collaborations, this is the second namesake album from this trumpet player from New Hampshire. In Metaview the four collaborators in this leader's journey adapt themselves well to the needs of Haskins, who has composed and arranged the album.
There are 11 pieces with well delineated themes, in which Haskins does not hesitate to enrich the trumpet with "performance". His breaths design sinous lines in a couples dance, in pieces like "Interbeing" which brings to light the versatility of the sax tenor Andrew Rathbun, or in "Biorhythm" one of the best on the CD in which the melody is underscored and accompanied by a delicate guitar.
Haskins has assimilated many important experiences, such as those of the big band of Dave Holland. In 1990 his musical abilities brought him directly to the court of Maynard Ferguson in "Big bop nouveau". However, the bop quality of the "40's does not find space in Metaview, which gives way to sounds that are more modern sounds and more open to contamination.
The double bass of Matt Penman paints warm tones in "Moodring", which are lightly grazed by the notes of Haskins. The melody and the improvisation of the trumpeteer walk a fine line and hang in the balance of the path traced by Penman and Adam Rogers, in a beautiful game of equilibrium. The beat comes to the forefront with "Timespeed" where the drumming of Mark Ferber is more decisive and pronounced. The funk episode in "Call Me Tomorrow" and "Itty Bitty Ditty" are once again a 'time out' from sounds that are much more acidic.
The Fresh Sound New Talent European label based in Barcelona, once again puts its label on an a very valid emerging artist, both as a composer and a performer, and demonstrates that at times it is the Americans who do not cull the treasures that are in their own country. - italia.AllAboutJazz.com

"Review of 'Metaview'"

Brooklyn, N.Y., resident Taylor Haskins is the lead trumpeter for bassist Dave Holland’s Big Band. Much in demand as a session artist, Haskins’ latest solo effort is steeped within a progressive jazz format along with traces of jazz-fusion style, background effects. It’s largely about power and grace, where Haskins and saxophonist Andrew Rathbun align for a consortium of upbeat and vibrantly executed unison choruses. They mix it up rather nicely. But this is not just a hard-edged blowing session. On this endeavor, the trumpeter steers the soloists through interleaving and sonorous motifs via a loose-groove mindset, abetted up by the occasional knotty time signature. Moreover, guitar-slinger Adam Rogers’ fluent single note solos parlay an ominous edge, sometimes tempered with sequences designed upon cyclical dreamscapes.

With the piece titled “Moodring,” Haskins’ yearning lines counterbalance Rogers’ free-flight guitar solo and cleverly placed harmonic movements. And with “Trance Dance,” Rathbun’s rapid-fire tenor sax flurries help elevate the ensemble into the freer side of matters. Nonetheless, Haskins is one to watch, evidenced by this zealous offering, rooted within sustainable compositions and the musicians’ perspicacious technical maneuvers. – Glenn Astarita

- eJazzNews.com


"Recombination" (5/2011) on 19/8 Records

"American Dream" (6/2010) on Sunnyside Records

"Metaview" (2006) on Fresh Sound New Talent

"Wake Up Call" (2002) on Fresh Sound New Talent

••selected discography as a sideman••
"Overtime" (2005) - Dave Holland Big Band
"Filtros" (2008) - Guillermo Klein
"Bona Makes You Sweat" - Richard Bona (2008)
"Live at Birdland" (2000) - Magali Souriau Orchestra
"Large One" (1999) - Peter Herborn
"True Stories" (2002) - Andrew Rathbun



Taylor Haskins is being hailed as one of the most original new voices on the trumpet today. Downbeat magazine has declared him one of '25 Trumpets for the Future', stating that Taylor displays "a probing, adroit lyricism and a gift for complex, imaginative composition." In 2002 Taylor released his debut recording entitled "Wake Up Call" on the Barcelona-based Fresh Sound/New Talent label, and followed up on the same label in 2006 with "Metaview". In 2010 he released "American Dream" on the prestigious Sunnyside label, to critical acclaim. It has been hailed as a "smart and engaging sonic commentary" by JazzTimes magazine. Downbeat magazine called it "ambitious" and "imaginative". All Music Guide remarked that it sounded like "what might have happened had Dizzy Gillespie met Bill Frisell." Forthcoming in early 2011 is the debut of a new electro-acoustic project, entitled "Recombination", on 19/8 Records. Writer Peter Hum of the Ottawa Citizen has already called the album one of "Six Reasons to Look Forward to 2011" alongside projects by such greats as Joe Lovano and Brad Mehldau, stating that Taylor "deserves much wider recognition."

As a sideman, Taylor won a Grammy award in 2005 working with Dave Holland on the album "Overtime", and continues to play lead trumpet in the ensemble. He is also long-time a member of Guillermo Klein's "Los Guachos" and has performed & recorded with many other artists such as Richard Bona, Maynard Ferguson, Peter Herborn's 'Large', Jamie Baum, and Andrew Rathbun. In the past Taylor has performed with Luciana Souza, the Maria Schneider Orchestra, Clark Terry, the Village Vanguard Orchestra, the JC Sanford Orchestra, the Alan Ferber Big Band, Ed Palermo's 'Frank Zappa Big Band', TILT Brass Ensemble, the Bjorkestra, the Joey Sellars Jazz Aggregation, Rosemary Clooney, Helen Merrill, the Artie Shaw Orchestra, the Pablo Ablanedo Octet, and the Big Apple Circus, amongst others.

Taylor grew up in the quiet woods of New Hampshire, where he began his musical life around the age of 4 by plunking out television and movie themes by ear on the family piano. Formal piano lessons began at 5, and at the age of 10 Taylor started to play the trumpet in school band. He proved to be a natural at the instrument and had very little private instruction until after high school, when he earned full merit-based scholarships to both undergraduate and graduate school to pursue his musical studies. Taylor studied classical trumpet with Dr. Robert Stibler at the University of New Hampshire (BA, 1994), and there he found a mentor in the great Clark Terry, who frequented the university. in 1994 he relocated to New York City to study with trumpet legend Lew Soloff at the Manhattan School of Music (MM, 1996). In 1997 he was a semi-finalist in the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Jazz Trumpet Competition.

In addition to playing trumpet, Taylor has composed music for theater projects (including shows at Symphony Space & San José Rep), art projects (incuding exhibitions at PS1/MOMA, as well as in Madrid, San Francisco & Montreál) ), and Taylor has also proven himself a versatile composer for various media, utilizing new technology in combination with traditional composing methods. He has composed and produced music for over 50 major national television commercials, along with network IDs and sound-design. Taylor has also contributed original music to such films as “Arlington Road” (1999), “Waking the Dead” (2000), ”No Maps For These Territories” (2000), “The Mothman Prophecies” (2001), “The Rules of Attraction” (2003), and most recently his song 'Missing' was featured in “Sorry, Haters” (2006) starring Robin Wright Penn. Taylor has scored numerous independent short films as well, including the award-winning comedy “Spot”, for which he also wrote the screenplay. In addition to this myriad of activities, for several years Taylor composed music and helped develop artificial-intelligence-based music composition software for the forward-thinking music production house 'tomandandy' in New York.

Taylor currently lives & works in New York.