JamBase Questionnaire: Brian Haas

Welcome back to JamBase's baker's dozen to the bright lights of the music world. Last time we heard from The New Up.

Odysseys are a tricky business. By nature, they are circuitous and fraught with sirens calling one towards the rocks and angry, jealous gods tossing stones in one's pathway. The long, winding road of Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey handily reflects the mythological origins of their name, with myriad lineup changes and stylistic shifts over their many years. But one element remains constant – though perhaps bobbing his head wildly – and that's Brian Haas, who is hands down one of the finest keyboardists of his generation, a player for the ages who continues the line begun by Earl Hines, Chick Corea and John Medeski.

Another facet of an odyssey is surprise around each turn, and one need only press play on Stay Gold, the latest JFJO studio joint (released June 21 on Royal Potato Family), and they're whisked into brightly hued fresh spaces dappled with Chris Combs' lap steel (and growing compositional acumen) and Haas' ever-potent piano. The atmosphere of opener "The Sensation of Seeing Light" touches on Jacob Fred's existing gift for capturing elemental qualities in song, but it's followed by "Trampoline Phoenix," which shifts and explodes in a patient, intense way for a vibe that's genuinely new. This vibe – a little Okie, a little funky, a little classical – continues on the superb "Hanby's Window," which burns and jumps with giddy life. A lovely melodic sense infuses this set, with the entire quartet using conscious control and playing to the shared sensibilities of each piece. So, as usual, instrumental music is given a gift when JFJO gathers, particularly in the flowing, gorgeous piano work of Haas on Stay Gold.

Jacob Fred plays NYE in their native Tulsa, Oklahoma – tackling, perhaps literally, the music of Madonna, Beyonce and Lady Gaga – and then a special NYC Winger Jazz Fest gig in NYC at Le Poisson Rouge on January 8 (late night - starting at 1 am), but Mistah Haas squirreled away a few moments to answer our questions. (Dennis Cook)

Brian Haas by Josh Miller
1. Great music rarely happens without…

2. The first album I bought was…

3. The last song or album to really flip my wig was…
Wooden Arms by Patrick Watson

4. When I was a kid I wanted to grow up to be…
A rock star

5. My favorite sort of gig is…
A relaxed, peaceful, exuberant celebration

6. One thing I wish people knew about me is…
I stopped wishing a long time ago - I create.

7. I love the sound of…
Birds, the ocean, the wind in the trees and my breath.

8. One day I hope to make an album as fantastic as…
John Coltrane's A Love Supreme

9. The best meal I ever had on tour was at…
A friend's house

10. I always find the coolest audiences in…

11. The worst habit I've picked up being on the road all the time is…
An addiction to driving.

12. The Beatles or the Stones? Por qué?
The Beatles. John Lennon.

13. The craziest thing I ever saw was…
A naked man wearing shoes run through an alley in West Hollywood and approach a black Chevy Suburban. An arm came out of the Suburban window and the naked man received fast pleasuring. This happened 100 feet away from a large group of us. The man said nothing. He ran off and the Chevy drove away. We cheered.

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[Published on: 12/7/10]

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