Young Austin, Texas based saxophonist Elias Haslanger has received a good deal of praise since his arrival on the jazz scene. Haslanger’s sure fire attack coupled with references to Trane, Webster and Rollins serves up a recipe for acute jazz literacy while displaying characteristics that indicates maturity and individualism. Haslanger utilizes the services of the estimable pianist-educator Ellis Marsalis on two tracks and is backed by a good solid band throughout. The attitude conveyed on “Kicks Are For Kids” rekindles memories of “early 1960’s” Jazz Messenger or perhaps Miles Davis’ Quintet, which suggests tight, peerless ensemble work.
The opener and title track “Kicks Are For Kids” contains a catchy bright melody line and blends elements of funk and swing. This is an enticing and toe-tapping tune, which features some delicate and bouncy phrasing from pianist Fredrick Sanders. Trumpeter Tito Carrillo adds a nice touch with a huge bright tone and expressive soloing. “Kicks Are For Kids” develops into a mid-tempo swing and post-bop affair providing ample space for the soloists. The attractive melody is restated to enhance the sense of structure and compositional form. Haslanger’s “Eugene and Marie” features the elegant touch of pianist Ellis Marsalis who churns out a sweet ballad while Haslanger’s fluent yet moody tenor sax phrasings draws upon influences from the masters, namely Ben Webster and Sonny Rollins. Here, Haslanger’s full-bodied tone and eloquent, pensive articulations are a testament to his acute technical skills and maturation. His improvisational skills also warrant honorable mention. ! Haslanger’s fiery brand of tenor sax also incorporates lush romanticism, penetrating vibrato and acute timing are staples of his personalized and identifiable sound. It’s not all about technique as is the case with many of the so-called post-bop young lions who get substantial monetary backing by the big record companies. Haslanger’s music, while not revolutionary or groundbreaking excels in strong compositional material, a signature style saxophone sound and a sophisticated, focused sense of evolvement among the band. Haslanger dabbles with “free-improv” with the aptly titled “Free For Three”. Here, Haslanger, bassist Edwin Livingston and drummer J.J. Johnson stretch out and convey an abundant array of ideas, tones and shifting tempos. Haslanger picks up the soprano sax towards the end while bassist Livingston expands upon his walking bass lines taking a straight-up solo. J.J. Johnson’s drumming is solid and pervasive. He rarely mixes it up from a soloist’s perspectiv! e but lays down a good foundation throughout this recording.
“Kicks Are For Kids” should be counted among the top jazz releases of 1998. Haslanger has a lot to offer and displays core qualities that draw upon past influences yet establishes his identity as a cutting edge stylist with a firm stake in the ground. Highly Recommended.
Elias Haslanger; tenor and soprano sax: Fredrick Sanders; piano: Edwin Livingston; bass: J.J. Johnson; drums: Tito Carrillo; trumpet (tracks 1,2,3,5,6 and 10): Ellis Marsalis; piano (tracks 4 and 9)
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.