Take Five With Noah Haidu
Pianist and composer Noah Haidu is evidence that 21st century jazz can be adventurous, fresh and swing hard; that an exciting, modern pianist can play memorable melodies and soulful grooves. His powerful new Posi- Tone Records CD Slipstream is garnering impressive reviews and radio play: write-ups in All About Jazz, JazzTimes, the Financial Times, Downbeat, and eight weeks in the top 50 national Jazzweek charts. Noah has also gained the attention of the jazz world through live appearances or recordings with heavyweights such as Mike Stern, Jeremy Pelt, Ambrose Akinmusire, Benny Golson, Jon Irabagon, Eddie Henderson, Billy Hart, Duane Eubanks, and Winard Harper.
Born in Charlottesville, Virginia, Noah was exposed early on to all kinds of music: classical, avant-garde, rock, and jazz. His high school years were spent in New Jersey and Los Angeles, where he was increasingly drawn to jazz and blues piano. His father, an avid music fan, took him to countless concerts, lessons, and band rehearsals and his first jazz shows. He moved to Brooklyn, New York and it wasn't long before he was constantly performing.
Now one of New York's leading young jazz pianists, Noah combines new rhythmic ideas, harmonic sophistication, spontaneity, soul, and swing into his own unique approach.
Teachers and/or influences?
Teachers: Kenny Barron, Barry Harris, David Hazeltine, Bruce Barth.
Influence: Herbie Hancock, McCoy Tyner, Kenny Kirkland, Wynton Kelly, Gene Harris.
I knew I wanted to be a musician when...
I got my first record as a kid, around seven years old. It was Thriller by Michael Jackson. I listened to it beginning to end every day after school. Couldn't decide which was my favorite song. I liked it that much.
Your sound and approach to music:
I try to build from the soul and groove that really got me into music in the first place, the common ground where Blues and Jazz meet. That said, my music is Jazz from right now, not some other period. I believe in tight arrangements attractive melodies and improvisation that goes somewhere. The goal is take the audience into the music, forget their surroundings and feel something.
Your dream band:
At some point i would like to play with Jeff "Tain" Watts. As a fan of Kenny Kirkland's I've listened to him on so many great recordings. His swing and forward momentum are amazing. I also have great respect for his composing, he is one of the few people now that actually have a sense of humor about their writing, that are both working on a high level but not taking themselves so seriously that they are afraid to have fun with the music.
The first Jazz album I bought was:
Renaissance by Branford Marsalis.
What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically?
I try to get outside of my own head with the music. It's not just about playing the piano. When I play I do get lost in the music. But the way I do that is I connect with the musicians I'm playing with and the audience. I can't enjoy performing without the audience and the band to inspire me. I use modern techniques as tools to add to a performance, not tricks to impress my musician friends.
Did you know...
Haidu is a common in Hungary. Almost like Smith is in the United States.
CDs you are listening to now:
McCoy Tyner, The Real McCoy (Blue Note Records);
Joe Ford, Today's Nights (Blue Moon);
Keith Jarrett, The Koln Concert (ECM Records);
Mark Turner, Yam Yam (Criss Cross).
How would you describe the state of jazz today?
I've talked about this a lot already. The music is healthy to my ear. But because there are many musicians competing for few gigs the camaraderie among the players has been somewhat eroded. It still exists, but it's harder to come by then what I've heard about earlier generations.
What is in the near future?
The first thing is the Kitano performance in New York Thursday March 15, 2012. My trio, joined by trumpeter Jeremy Pelt who has a great feel for my music. Then the band will head to D.C. for a weekend gig at Twins Jazz, May 4-5. I'm excited to be playing new music, things I've been writing for my next CD. The record features my trio but will also have pieces for a larger group with several horns. There will be new compositions and also music by pop and jazz composers. Some of the "standards" will be tough to recognize because the arrangements really push the possibilities the song. I'm very excited about the project.