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Victor Haskins: Showing Up

Nicholas F. Mondello By

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Since he burst onto the scene, Victor Haskins has developed a robust reputation as a modern-day jazz storyteller. His utterly sincere approach to his art is in the highest jazz tradition of exploration and innovation. With Showing Up, Haskins has taken his message to yet another higher level.

The album, Haskins' second, presents his "Skein"—comprised of himself acoustically and electro-enhanced, a bassist and percussionist—delivering ten highly intelligent, textured tracks. Each presents its own eclectic musical poetry. Haskins is genie-like here, granting listeners stimulating mind-colors and both emotional range and depth via his original compositions. This is music for introspection and involvement.

"Touch" opens the session with Haskin's horn a morose, melismatic ribbon which weaves over his engaged partners. "Grey" is a faster dance, featuring the leader's EWI (electronic wind instrument) and other electronic effects along with a terrific solo by bassist Pharr. The quirky "Reliving the Past" wah-wahs a creative romp where Haskins stretches out with faster, technically-adept lines interposed with acoustic and electro-enhanced ideas.

Haskins' cornet tone is warm and inviting. He has chops of both technique and deep expression. One might draw similarities here with the work of trumpeter Tomasz Stanko ("Morning" and the intense "Spite") and Wynton Marsalis on the speedier rides. His incorporation of EWI and other effects avoids gimmickry (read TV game show synth-slides) and offers textural alternatives to same. Throughout, the playing of bassist Pharr and percussionist Martucci is nearly perfectly integrated with Haskin's melodic, improvisational and overall creative approach.

On the burner "Swift," Haskins and crew are a speedball where the leader shows he's got improv chops aplenty. "Five in the Pocket" is a funk gem that will assuredly ear-worm and probably be picked up as bumper music somewhere in the media; it has that vibe and catchy appeal. "Enemy at the Gate" is a martial-texture feature—a game of tones. "Psithurism," a highly intense and wildly electronic rhythmic track, has exotic over-and undertones. It's a furious send-off.

Showing Up is a superb foray into a marvelously creative mind, performed by superior players. It will not be for all tastes. However, as with more exotic cuisine, the enjoyment—and potential ecstasy—is in starting the tasting. Dig in.

Track Listing: Touch, Grey, Reliving the Past, Swift, Five in the Pocket, Morning, Enemy at the Gate, Spite, The Aura, Psithurism.

Personnel: Victor Haskins: cornet, EWI (Electronic Wind Instrument), sound design and sound effects; Randall Pharr: double bass; Tony Martucci: drims and percussion.

Title: Showing Up | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: Self Produced

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