Haines pays homage to spirits and sounds of jazz
A dissertation, a honeymoon and a broken foot.
They are not the obvious sources of inspiration for a jazz album but it turned out to be the perfect recipe for Nathan Haines.
It started innocently enough.
Haines and his wife had a month- long honeymoon in France in July last year. Naturally, the musician wanted to make the most of this rare time off, taking with him a dissertation about ‘‘ the similarities between the melodic vocabulary of John Coltrane and a classical composer from the 1940s who wrote a thesaurus of scales, which influenced a lot of jazz musicians in the 1950s’’.
Then he broke his foot, which meant being on holiday was not much fun.
So he came home to the realisation that all he could really do was work on what he had learnt.
‘‘ I really got to grips with some new melodic material. I couldn’t do anything except practise this new melodic vocabulary that I was investigating and then out of that came the seeds of the record,’’ he says.
The record is The Poet’s Embrace, which is out this week, and it is all about Haines pushing new boundaries, or more correctly, rediscovering old ones.
Though to many he might be a jazz musician, Haines wanted to get back to those pure roots, without the sales- friendly ‘‘crossover’’ tag that has been attached to him in recent years.
‘‘I guess I just went back to who I really am, which is somebody who has invested my life and music into investigating melody and harmony in the jazz tradition and I guess this is myfirst record that really showcases that,’’ Haines says.
‘‘On my last album I had collaborations with all sorts of people and this was sort of the opposite of that.
‘‘There are no other guests on there, I’m not playing any other instruments, I’m not singing, I’m not playing the flute.’’
Haines gets back to the way jazz used to be made.
The recording happened over just two days and with predominantly vintage gear and instruments.
The music was captured on an analogue tape machine, meaning there was no room for digital tweaks and fix-up jobs.
‘‘It’s like a lost art. It adds mystery, I think. There are a lot of rock bands now who are recording in a very old way – jazz guys haven’t really been doing it, so I thought it was time for me to.
‘‘ I grew up playing at the London Bar, back in the 80s and early 90s.
‘‘I went there every weekend and sat in with older musicians. It was such a great growing-up process of learning the music, so I wanted to pay homage in spirit and in sound to those records I grew up with.’’
The 40-year-old said making this record had changed him as a musician and a performer, no mean feat for someone who has been in the business for 25 years.
‘‘It was a great, great challenge. I feel like a different musician to six months ago.’’
PERFECT RECIPE: Nathan Haines’ latest effort is perfection.