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Elias Haslanger

Over the span of his 25-year music career, native Texan and Austin resident Elias Haslanger has carved a unique and distinguished place in jazz history as a saxophonist, composer, and band leader, whose playing and writing has drawn comparisons to John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Ben Webster, and Wayne Shorter. He has performed, recorded, and toured with many world-class artists including Ellis Marsalis, Maynard Ferguson, Asleep at the Wheel, Alejandro Escovedo, The Four Tops, and The Temptations, among many others.

Elias has performed around the United States and Europe at clubs like Snug Harbor in New Orleans, Jazz Alley in Seattle, The Elephant in Austin, and The Blue Note in New York. He has also served as a guest artist/lecturer at universities around the nation. Mentored by the legendary saxophonists Harvey Pittel and Dick Oatts, Elias began to explore the instrument’s vast potential by studying saxophone at the University of Texas and then at the Manhattan School of Music. His interest in writing music culminated in a Master’s Degree in Composition at Texas State University (TSU) in San Marcos.

In 1996, Elias recorded his second CD as a leader entitled For the Moment, which received substantial national airplay, reaching #11 on the Gavin Jazz charts and #14 on the Jazziz Radioactive chart. Herb Wong from JazzTimes magazine wrote, “Haslanger is clearly in the forefront of the young, new, fresh players. He has respect for tradition as well as being himself. He is a merger of the past and the future.” Elias was awarded “Best Horn Player” by the Austin Chronicle in 1997, as well as the Jazz Instrumental Soloist College Outstanding Performance for the 20th Annual Downbeat Student Music Awards. In 1998 TSU awarded Elias the Mitte Scholarship for academic achievement, and Elias began to teach music theory and composition at the university.

That same year, Elias collaborated with the patriarch of the modern jazz scene, Ellis Marsalis, to release Kicks Are for Kids, of which DownBeat magazine writer Michael Point wrote, “Haslanger is now a full grown talent, both as a composer and instrumentalist whose future has almost unlimited potential and should be regarded in national terms.”

Kicks Are for Kids won praise from fans and critics around the world, and the recording was recognized as one of the top five jazz records of the year by Rick Mitchell of the Houston Chronicle, while the Austin Chronicle’s writers Jay Trachtenberg and Christopher Hess voted it the #1 and #3 best records of all Austin artists. DownBeat’s writer Michael Point voted Kicks Are for Kids as one of the top ten best CDs to come out of Austin in the 90′s, and it reached #4 on the Gavin Jazz charts with 180 radio stations around the country playing it. Elias was also awarded “Best Jazz Group” by the Austin Chronicle later that year. During this time, Elias continued to teach theory, saxophone, and composition at TSU before moving to Brooklyn, New York in 2000.

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“Most impressive.” -Ira Gitler

“Elias’s CD (Kicks) is very much in the Jazz group concept of today. It is obvious he has spent the time to reach a level of excellence that is commendable.” -Ellis Marsalis

“Simply put, Haslanger is a major talent who could find his way into the upper echelons of jazz with a judicious marketing push and smaller gaps between recordings.” -Glenn Astarita, AllAboutJazz.com

“From the moment Church on Monday opens, with saxophonist Elias Haslanger leaning into a finger-poppin’ boogaloo on the title track, there’s no letting up. Native Austinite and pillar of the local jazz scene, the tenor hornsman leads his sterling quintet in a set of tunes inspired by sax stylist Stanley Turrentine’s classic 1964 Blue Note LP, Hustlin’. Haslanger’s mentor and longtime collaborator Dr. James Polk on B-3 organ and former Joey DeFrancesco guitarist Jake Langley cut a formidable, three-pronged attack that eschews any muscle-flexing outside playing deep, earthen, blues- drenched instrumentals. This is particularly evident on the swingin’ shuffles “Trouble No. 2″ and “Buffalo,” a number written by late Austin trumpeter Kenny Dorham. It’s also in the rhythm section of bassist Daniel Durham and drummer Scott Laningham really laying it in the pocket. Since his first album in 1994, Standards, Haslanger has consistently demonstrated a penchant for ageless chestnuts, and this session is no exception. His version of “On a Clear Day” is simply divine, fashioning a creamy, satin-smooth tone that harkens back to an earlier era of big-toned tenor men. Likewise, he breathes fresh ideas into Randy Weston’s “Hi- Fly” and Kurt Weill’s “Speak Low.” After a six-year recording hiatus, Elias Haslanger not only returns in top form, he goes to Church. Four stars” -Jay Trachtenberg, Austin Chronicle

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Album Discography

Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

Live at the Gallery

Cherrywood Records
2014

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Church On Monday

Cherrywood Records
2012

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Dream Story

Cherrywood Records
2006

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Dream Story

Cherrywood Records
2006

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Kicks Are For Kids

Heart Music
1999

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