On Second Thought: Fareed Haque – Out of Nowhere (2013)

Fareed Haque’s masterful fluidity is all over Out of Nowhere, the guitarist’s latest record. For this round, the Chicago-based musician forges ahead through a collection of standards and originals that are rooted in the traditions he knows well.

“I have recorded a lot of different music,” Haque says, “but at the end of the day, I’m still from Chicago and I grew up playing jazz, blues and R&B on the Chicago scene. And this new album reflects that.”

Indeed, he has recorded a lot of music. Along with his work in the jazz and classical genres, Haque explored electronica with Math Games and took on the jam band scene with the late Garaj Mahal. Those experiences certainly do play a part of Out of Nowhere, even as most of the music is more grounded in the fundamentals.

Immediately, Haque begins to speak in the language of jazz guitar greats like Pat Martino. The first track on the record, “Waiting for Red,” is a heavy piece of music that glows like bloodshot neon on a dark street. Haque plays noir patches and his flourishes are divinely partnered with Rob Clearfield’s piano. A different take on “Giant Steps” is also really something. The Coltrane tune features a little of that electronica magic, with effects and Haque’s abilities on the Moog guitar exceptional. Drummer Corey Healey produces a drumbeat that sounds akin to what one might hear on a rooftop bar in the city, while Clearfield’s keys once again provide that indispensable equilibrium.

By this point, what makes Fareed Haque such a compelling artist should be clear. He’s a risk-taker, yet he remains respectful of traditions and works to pass them along.

Grant Green’s “Flood in Franklin Park” is another example. The tune is alive with texture and feeling, painting a visual picture. Healey’s drums are once again stellar, while Haque’s work carves out a confident journey. And let’s not forget “Inner Urge,” the Joe Henderson number that opens just a touch inside the realm of free jazz and pulls together through the complex refrain. Once again, the union of Clearfield and Haque is a highlight.

“I just want to play the music that I grew up on,” Haque says of the record. “So it seemed like now was the time to go back to the roots. I think it’s important for the tradition to not be conservative, to still look outside the tradition but to still have the roots in swing. You’ve gotta have that. I don’t wanna use Duke’s old phrase, but you know what I mean.”

Haque’s desire to remain conscious of the roots while pushing things forward is what makes Out of Nowhere such an interesting selection of music. Far too many musicians choose one side of the street or the other, but this guitarist and his crew are walking right up the middle.

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Jordan Richardson

Jordan Richardson is a Canadian freelance writer and ne'er-do-well. He also contributes to his own Canadian Cinephile and Canadian Audiophile websites. Contact Something Else! Reviews at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.