Hailey Niswanger : Keeper

CD [Cover Art for Hailey Niswanger / Keeper] Your Price: $23.91
Availability: In Stock
Sell date: 7/2012
Label: CD Baby
Mfg's Catalog#: 5637934
CDC Part#: 1666566
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 Notes & Reviews
Even before she was out of her teens, while a freshman at Boston's Berklee College of Music, saxophonist Hailey Niswanger (pronounced 'NICE-wonger') was turning heads with her stunning command of straight-ahead jazz traditions. One of those whose ears she caught with her 2009 debut recording, Confeddie, was the venerable jazz critic Nat Hentoff, who opined in the Wall Street Journal, 'She plays with remarkable authority and drive considering her relative youth, and with the elan and dynamics of an unmistakable pro.' Now 22 and living in Brooklyn, having graduated from Berklee in December 2011 with a bachelor's degree in jazz performance, Niswanger demonstrates even greater virtuosity on her horns-alto and soprano saxophones-and deeper grounding in tradition with her second release, The Keeper, a set of eight of her own compositions, along with one apiece from the pens of Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, and Cole Porter. She is joined by three masterly former Berklee associates-pianist Takeshi Ohbayashi, bassist Max Moran, and drummer Mark Whitfield Jr.-and, on three selections, trumpeter Darren Barrett, a Berklee alumnus who now teaches at the prestigious institution. Niswanger's eight originals reflect her abiding affinity for the bop and post-bop genres of jazz and profound respect for her mentors. The joyous, time-signature-shifting title song, as well as the entire CD, is dedicated to the memory of Jeff Cumpston. He was the director of both the jazz band and symphonic band during her four years at West Linn High School near Portland. He also played drums in her band. In 2008, soon after she graduated, he moved with his family to Zimbabwe to teach elementary school. He died there the following year in a traffic accident. The swinging 'Straight Up' honors onetime Eddie Harris trumpeter Thara Memory, Niswanger's instructor at an afterschool arts program during her high school days. 'He really changed my life and made me fall in love with jazz,' she says now. 'He was the first teacher that really started telling me the truth straight up, speaking exactly what he felt about my playing, my behavior, everything. I feel that I've taken on that trait, too, in a way that I'm not afraid to hold back about what I really feel.' Niswanger composed the gently swinging 'Norman' for her 94-year-old Portland friend Norman Leyden, whose extensive credits include writing arrangements for Glenn Miller's Air Force band and for such singers as Tony Bennett and Sarah Vaughan. She has known him since she was 10, when he helped her with a fourth-grade report on George Gershwin. They played 'Rhapsody in Blue' together on clarinets during their first meeting. 'Every time I'm home, we get together for tea and lunch,' she says. 'We talk about music, listen to old records, and look at old scores.' 'Tale of Dale,' with it's boisterous beginning and changes of tempo, was inspired by several of her family members who share that name, especially her older sister and best friend Kaitlin Dale, who also took the photographs for The Keeper. 'The thing with these people is they're outgoing, crazy, wild people that are constantly changing their minds about things,' the saxophonist explains. 'They've very passionate people, too.' The playful, Monkish ''B' Happy' was written for two of Niswanger's lifelong 'companions,' the remnants of two cherished toys 'that keep me connected to my childhood.' 'Scraps,' the CD's Coltrane-esque opening track, was created from bits and pieces of melodies she had either sung or played and recorded on her telephone. The lovely waltz 'Balance' was composed for her drummer and close friend, Mark Whitfield Jr. The pensive 'Ravine' featuring Niswanger's alto and Barrett's trumpet was inspired by Vincent Van Gogh's painting of the same name. She fell in love with it upon viewing it at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts, located less than a mile from Berklee. Van Gogh's image of water rushing though a ravine reminded her of her lifelong passion for white-water rafting. 'Hidden within the painting are two travelers walking down a path,' she ad

Straight Up
Played Twice
Night & Day
Tale of Dale
'b' Happy
The Keeper