Taylor Haskins: Raising His (Trumpet) Voice
"I worked there full-time for four or five years. A lot of the people I was working with started their own production houses, so since then I've been freelancing for various friends. It's good work. I work from home," says Haskins, who has a wife and four-month-old son, with whom he enjoys spending time. "It's really fun. ... Working on it full time was kind of a drag sometimes because you have interact with the clients and hear their direct thoughts on your music and try and talk to them in their language about it. That was kind of painful. And challenging in a good way too. It's nice now, working from home."
Unlike many jazz musicians, Haskins does not teach music, so the commercial projects are a big part of his earning power. "I was on the road for a long time, until recently, with Richard Bona. I was still doing the writing thing, but I let it go for a little while. I've since stopped on the road with him so I picked [commercial work] up again for a little while. It's great, because I can do it between the gaps with the trumpet playing. I usually play everything on [projects. There are very few instances where you get to call a session player in. So, often I'm playing guitar and bass and drums, or programming them at least."
He has written and produced music for clients such as Diet Coke, Diet Pepsi, Target, AT&T, Buick, Smirnoff and MasterCard, Bounty, LL Bean, Canon as well as music and sound design ford has done network IDs on the USA and the WE cable television stations. He has also contributed some original music for small independent films. "That was through tomandandy, because they were into that. They did the music to Killing Zoe (1993), that Roger Avery did. Every once in a while they'd get some kind of crazy filmmaker ...we were writing crazy, crazy music that we weren't expecting anybody would like, let alone put in their movie. But it would get stuck in somewhere. Since then, I've done a couple things, but mostly music for short films and independent things here or there."
Bigger movie work is an aspiration.
"I've been into the idea of writing music for movies since I saw Star Wars (1978). I was obsessed with that music. I was just starting trumpet around that time. I was aware of the trumpets in the music. That was huge for me."
Amidst all this other work, performing jazz music was still something Haskins pursued, with continued success. In 2003, he released his debut recording Wake Up Call on the Fresh Sound/New Talent label. He was making records with other folks as well. And getting calls from people like Dave Holland for his big band. "That was a great call. I didn't know if it was over for me in jazz," he notes. "The jazz gigs I was doing were really fun. Guillermo Klein's band, before he was really popular. There were little things that we didn't do for money, they were just for the music. I was fine with that. If I did that and the commercial music, I was cool. Then Dave Holland called and asked if I wanted to go on the road with his big band. I guess that answered that question. That brought me back; I felt like I'd fallen out of balance in terms of writing versus trumpet. That kicked me back to the right balance."
Haskins plays on Overtime (Dare2, 2005), a Grammy winner for the big band.
And now he continues to play around the Big Apple with people like Baum, Andy Rathbun and Alan Ferber. "I've been pretty busy with the trumpet," Haskins says.
The recording to be released in December is with Monder, Henry Hey, Todd Sickafoose and Nate Smith. "That's an electro-acoustic thing," Haskins says. "Then over the winter I'm going to record another thing with this [American Dream] quartet. I'm starting a period of high activity, I think. Commercial writing has taken a back seat. It's great. I wouldn't trade it. I don't have the patience to teach. That's why I was looking for a job like that."
But he's already thinking about the next album, and "Right now I'm trying to wrap my head around what is the next concept."
More of Taylor Haskins' brawny trumpet is a good thing. There are a lot more pleasures to derive from his creativity.
Taylor Haskins, American Dream (Sunnyside Records, 2010)
Richard Bona, Bona Makes You Sweat (Universal, 2008)
Guillermo Klein, Filtros (Sunnyside, 2008)
Taylor Haskins, Metaview (Fresh Sound, New Talent, 2006)
Dave Holland Big Band, Overtime (Dare2, 2005)
Taylor Haskins, Wake Up Call (Fresh Sound, New Talent, 2003)
Guillermo Klein, Los Gauchos 3 (Sunnyside, 2003)
Andrew Rathbun, True Stories (Fresh Sound, New Talent, 2001)