Gnosis sounds like the future. Of course, this will sound like an odd statement when time passes and fashions change -- when synthesizers phase back out of style, only to cycle back in again as styles tend to do -- but while it's hard to describe a period in a period, it's plain to see that Gnosis, the latest album from trumpeter/multi-instrumentalist Taylor Haskins, is not of this time.
All throughout this album, Haskins' synthesizers take to the forefront, holding onto the live wire of electronically-influenced jazz with both hands. It's hard to figure out where Haskins is going next, as it relates to musical direction or even his approach to the assorted instruments he's playing on the album, yet this makes the entire endeavor just that exciting. There's an unpredictability here just as prominent as Gnosis' focus.
In time, another innovative trumpeter came to mind after so many listens-- Erik Truffaz, the Swiss musician internationally recognized for pushing boundaries long before the rest of the scene even fathomed of catching up to him while he's already on to the next thing. If jazz weren't the main focus here, one could easily pose this work in the middle of a DJ set with cuts from Tycho or Gold Panda. What Haskins is pulling off here is a deftness at cross-genre music that accomplishes in equal parts every aspect of its composition.
The nine-song album plays through like a storm system blowing past. Opener "Hazy Days" sounds right at home in an early aughts spy thriller (and will probably make any listener feel like a badass if this is playing while driving). The title track featuring a sample from philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti has a centering quality to it, like any time this song comes up will immediately bring about a calm from the depths of the listener's soul. It's a song so beautiful, it's as if Jamie Baum's alto flute is playing a mantra. "Lost Worlds", oddly, sounds influenced by Praful (hey, remember Praful?!), with all the better, non-hokey new age elements remaining. "Plucky" is definitely in the same vein a Gold Panda song.
One can't be too sure if Taylor Haskins is intending to break boundaries or merely to cross over them in his latest album, but no matter the intention, the product remains exceptional. It's an album that can please various crowds for everything it's accomplishing, and a collection of songs that should find their way onto myriad playlists of all sorts. It's an album to share, because everyone could use a bright vision of the future.
Gnosis, the latest album from trumpeter/multi-instrumentalist Taylor Haskins, is out now.
TAYLOR HASKINS - analog EVI, synthesizers, piano, programming, trumpet
NATE SMITH - drum set
FIMA EPHRON - electric bass (2,4)
BRANDEE YOUNGER - harp (3, 8)
NIR FELDER - guitar (2, 4)
HENRY HEY - rhodes & wurlitzer electric pianos (4, 7, 9)
JOSH ROSEMAN - trombone (6)
TODD SICKAFOOSE - acoustic bass (3, 7, 9)
DANIEL FREEDMAN - percussion (6, 8)
JAMIE BAUM - alto flute (3)
THE MAGIC SHOP, NYC
BUNKER STUDIO, BROOKLYN
SYSTEMS TWO, BROOKLYN
additional recording at
RECOMBINATION LABS, ADK
Nextbop editor Anthony Dean-Harris hosts the modern jazz radio show, The Line-Up, Fridays at 9pm CST on 91.7 FM KRTU San Antonio and is also a contributing writer to DownBeat Magazine and the San Antonio Current. You should follow him on Twitter.
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