Elias Haslanger counts among his inspirations such classical composers as Claude Debussy, Hector Berlioz and Richard Strauss, as well as a plethora of jazz artists including Wayne Shorter, John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Freddie Hubbard and Miles Davis. Several rock artists are also among his influences.
The Austin, Texas-born saxophonist has toured the United States and Europe, playing with or opening for some contemporary heavyweights in jazz and other styles. Among them are Maynard Ferguson, Ellis Marsalis, Roy Hargrove, Clark Terry, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Kenny Garrett and Terence Blanchard.
Haslanger has acted as a guest artist and lecturer at universities. He earned a Master's Degree in Composition at Southwest Texas State University, where he later was awarded the Mitte Scholarship for academic achievement. He was awarded the Jazz Instrumental Soloist College Outstanding Performance for the 20th Annual Down Beat Student Music Awards in 1998.
Haslanger's range of experiences comes through on Dream Story, a collection of ten original songs. His band is comprised of J.J. Johnson on drums, Andy Langham on piano and Hamilton Price on bass. Pete Rodriguez appears on several tracks, playing trumpet, flugelhorn or congas, and trombonist Randy Zimmerman contributes to two songs.
"Eternal & Absolute features Haslanger on the soprano sax. This elegant, freestyle piece is straightforwardno gimmicks. After Langham's solo, Haslanger takes off on an emotional solo that puts him in a class with Garrett, Kirk Whalum or Jay Beckenstein. While that track may be more traditional in its approach, the aptly named "Simple Melodies brings a modern touch. Opening with Price's bass, this easygoing track features Haslanger on the tenor.
"One Heart, One Mind, one of four selections that approach or surpass the eight-minute mark, brings out Rodriguez on trumpet. Langham does his usual superb job. Johnson's work on the cymbals and toms give it extra punch. His solo is one of the high points of this track, which offers plenty of stretching out. Haslanger gives more of the same with "Dream Story, which features the artist on tenor, backed only by his rhythm section. Again, Langham thrills on the piano. Johnson and Price also make their presence felt.
Like the aforementioned Whalum and Beckenstein, among others, Haslanger is equally comfortable on the soprano and tenor. Whether performing only with a tight rhythm section or with the additional horns of Rodriguez and Zimmerman, he delivers a sound that's sure to please many a jazz aficionado. Dream Story is about an hour's worth of good jazz that's part traditional, part contemporary and largely something in between.
Personnel: Elias Haslanger: tenor and soprano saxophones; Pete Rodriguez: trumpet (4, 8), flugelhorn (3), congas (6); Randy Zimmerman: trombone (2, 6); J.J. Johnson: drums; Andy Langham: piano; Hamilton Price: bass.