Taylor Haskins – Gnosis (2017)

A sort of a more immediate Jon Hassell or Nils Petter Molvær, Taylor Haskins’ brand of trumpet-led electronica/jazz mix that doesn’t dicker around with letting his pieces develop on their own, they move with the vivid dynamism that befits his movie soundtrack/broadcast commercials pedigree. That’s also due to the ample in music technology experience he brings — developing generative music software for instance — as well as savvy with the analog EVI (Electronic Valve Instrument), and he applies it all masterfully for his sixth album. Gnosis drops on March 24, 2017 courtesy of Recombination Records.

It’s knowledge thrust into action on idea-packed tracks such as the dreamy ambience that dominates the first half of “Hazy Days”, thrown into an EDM groove tethered to natural ways thanks to drummer Nate Smith’s beat making. The proceedings move right into “View From Here” barely missing a beat, Nir Felder’s chiming guitar dovetailing nicely with Haskins’ EVI and the song ending what convincingly sounds like a tight horn arrangement.

Haskins can go downtempo and actually adds useful accents to the style on the title track, where he finds perfect spots to insert Brandee Younger’s harp and Jamie Baum’s flute into this nocturnal blue soul ballad.

Haskins plays keyboards, too, but brought in Henry Hey’s electric piano acumen for a few tracks such as on the Weather Report replica “Equal Night,” the 70s style muscular funk-jazz “Artificial Scarcity,” and “_ALT_X”, where Hey is given plenty of solo space and it nearly turns into a straight jazz tune.

Amid EVI, altered trumpet and synth swirls is an interesting, stilted rhythm pattern pulsing on “Circle Theory” and “Lost Worlds” is joined by Josh Roseman’s reverberating trombone. “Plucky” doesn’t feature violins plucking but it sure sounds so, and percussion from Daniel Freedman adds an Afro punch the floating circular figure.

Haskins’ capacity for blending cutting-edge, high-tech means of music making with the handmade, organically conceived method of playing jazz borders on the genius level, and that’s just what he is going for with Gnosis. “The process has taken a long time, a lot of patience and self-restraint,” he admits. “Gnosis is the closest I’ve come to achieving what I’ve intended all along.” His achievement stands tall.

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SVictorAaron
S. Victor Aaron