Take Five With Noah Haidu

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Meet 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
Mike Stern
Mike Stern
b.1953
guitar
, Jeremy Pelt
Jeremy Pelt
Jeremy Pelt
b.1976
trumpet
, Ambrose Akinmusire
Ambrose Akinmusire
Ambrose Akinmusire
b.1982
trumpet
, Benny Golson
Benny Golson
Benny Golson
b.1929
sax, tenor
, Jon Irabagon
Jon Irabagon
Jon Irabagon

saxophone
, Eddie Henderson
Eddie Henderson
Eddie Henderson
b.1940
trumpet
, Billy Hart
Billy Hart
Billy Hart
b.1940
drums
, Duane Eubanks
Duane Eubanks
Duane Eubanks
b.1969
trumpet
, and Winard Harper
Winard Harper
Winard Harper
b.1962
drums
.

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.

Instrument(s):
Piano

Teachers and/or influences?
Teachers: Kenny Barron
Kenny Barron
Kenny Barron
b.1943
piano
, Barry Harris
Barry Harris
Barry Harris
b.1929
piano
, David Hazeltine
David Hazeltine
David Hazeltine
b.1958
piano
, Bruce Barth
Bruce Barth
Bruce Barth
b.1958
piano
.

Influence: Herbie Hancock
Herbie Hancock
Herbie Hancock
b.1940
piano
, McCoy Tyner
McCoy Tyner
McCoy Tyner
b.1938
piano
, Kenny Kirkland
Kenny Kirkland
Kenny Kirkland
1955 - 1998
piano
, Wynton Kelly
Wynton Kelly
Wynton Kelly
1931 - 1971
piano
, Gene Harris
Gene Harris
Gene Harris
1933 - 2000
piano
.

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
Jeff
Jeff "Tain" Watts
b.1960
drums
. 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
Branford Marsalis
Branford Marsalis
b.1960
saxophone
.

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.

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