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Take Five with Mark Haskins

Mark Haskins By

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About Mark Haskins

Music in the Haskins' household was as much a second language as English or Spanish is to another. Mark Haskins' late father was a violinist and his sister a music teacher. So there was always a tune coming from some part of the house. Mark's room though was flooded with the sounds of Miles Davis and Wes Montgomery. Imagine a seven-year-old tackling the likes of "Footprints" and "Born to Be Blue" on the piano. Mark did just that as his lessons started at an early age, only moving onto the drums a decade later. Five years later he switched to the guitar. Many thought he'd jump right into music after high school, but he went to university and graduated with a master's degree focused on electronic engineering and computer science.

Soon after he obtained his degree he switched gears and went on to further his jazz studies at the Trinity College of Music in London. It was there that he took that childhood love of the greats and channeled them as he grew into his own modern day jazz artist. Now with almost four decades of experience behind him, he's built up an impressive resume of accomplishments. From playing around the world touring with countless artists to being on the bill of major Jazz festivals to being featured on BBC—he's done it all and then some. He has also worked as a session musician in London, Ireland, France, America and Australia with some of the very best artists in the world. He has always remained in the background, backing and producing other artists.

For years fans and critics alike have appreciated what Mark Haskins brings to the genre of jazz, including his unorthodox compositions in songs like "African Heartbeat" and the more personal tracks he's released recently in honor of his late wife, such as "Nightride" and "The Echoes of Your Heart."

The passing of his wife prompted Mark to return to his home in South Africa. He established his own record company; MIH Music Publishers. Now he's focused on releasing his fifth studio album, Changes. He plans on following Changes up with two more albums in 2018. Mark has stepped out of the background straight onto the world stage where he belongs. He is a true maestro.

Instrument(s):

Guitar, Piano, Drums.

Teachers and/or influences?

My late dad was a classical violinist so he obviously had a lot of influence in my formative training. My late sister, Patricia, who was several years older than me, kick-started my training at the age of six. She was a music teacher who played piano.

The first time that I listened to jazz music, was at the age of five. I fell in love with that rich mellow tone of Wes Montgomery's guitar. At that time my favorites besides Wes Montgomery were Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis. Later on, I started listening to Pat Martino, John Coltrane, and George Benson.

Apart from my teachers at Trinity College of Music, my favourite teachers were Pat Martino and Billy Cobham. I salute all my teachers over the years. They are too numerous to list. I'm eternally grateful for the input all of them had in cultivating my skills and talents.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when...

Forever. I never really had, needed or wanted a choice. Music was part of my staple diet. From the age of four, I could sit down at a piano and pick out and play the melody lines of most songs by ear. All this was done without instruction. The very first melody which I played unassisted was "The Sound of Music!"

Your sound and approach to music.

My approach to sound was sculptured by Wes Montgomery at a very early age. I still use the clean tones of my Gibson L5 coupled with my Vox amp. My approach to music was influenced mainly by Pat Martino. He taught me to listen attentively to my fellow musicians, to augment and embellish their playing, and never to overpower the soloist. He also taught me that when it was my turn to take my solo: "Let rip and give it all you have." He certainly does just that. Furthermore, Billy Cobham taught me to keep an open mind and to listen to a very broad spectrum of music other than jazz. I listen to and love classical music. Bach, Mozart and Beethoven in particular. I also listen to country, reggae, blues, rock, hip hop and R&B. Not that I like it all. I learn something from each one. Even if I only learn what I should not do. :-)

Your teaching approach

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