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Bruce Lindsay reviews Noah Haidu “Momentum” for AAJ…

A quick glance at the monochrome photo that adorns the cover of Momentum could lead to the impression that the pianist is George Gershwin. It isn’t, of course, it’s Noah Haidu and this is his second album as leader. Any similarities between Haidu and Gershwin end with the shadowy cover shot—Haidu most definitely looks to more contemporary influences for his inspiration.

Haidu’s debut album, Slipstream (Posi-Tone Records, 2011), was a quintet affair with trumpeter Jeremy Pelt and tenor saxophonist Jon Irabagon taking on a big slice of the front-line duties. Momentum retains that album’s warmth but removes the emphasis on horns. This is a trio outing and while bassist Ariel de la Portilla and drummer McClenty Hunter are in excellent form Haidu is very much the man in front.

The decision to slim down the band suggests that Haidu is gaining confidence as a player—as does his decision to include an impressive cover of Keith Jarrett’s “Rainbow.” The confidence isn’t misplaced. Haidu’s selection of covers is shrewd, demonstrating his range both technically and stylistically. Jimmy Van Heusen’s “I Thought About You” really swings and the loose, relaxed, version of Thad Jones’ “A Child Is Born” captures that tune’s inherent grace.

Four of the tunes are Haidu’s own. “Momentum” is well named: a driving rhythm from all three players underpins Haidu’s melodic lines. “Juicy” shares that drive but adds a few quirks. “Cookie Jar” the best of the bunch, Hunter and de la Porta creating an energy that inspires Haidu to his most assertively swinging performance.

The fourth of Haidu’s numbers, “Groove Interlude,” is an oddity: a 99 second tune that sounds like it has the momentum (sorry) to go places but never does. Momentum, on the other hand, demonstrates clearly that Haidu’s got the talent to go places: it will be fascinating to hear which places he goes to next.

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Music and More on Noah Haidu “Momentum”…

Pianist Noah Haidu leads a solid mainstream trio on this album supported by Ariel de la Portilla on bass and McClenty Hunter on drums. The play a wide variety of original compositions and a few standards that cohere well as a mainstream jazz LP. “Momentum” and “Groove Interlude” are a showcase for Haidu’s percussive uptempo piano playing, driving the music forward, with ample support from bass and drums. On the standards “A Child Is Born” and “The End of a Love Affair” you hear the more melodic sense of the band. Haidu has an excellent sense of time and pacing, allowing the music to breathe well and allowing his colleagues ample space to express themselves. He ends the album with a reading solo piano  reading of of “Serenity” which builds from a forlorned opening to a a hopeful and gentle conclusion. All in all, this is a fine piano trio release, quite accessible and approachable for most mainstream jazz fans.

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Richard Kamins reviews Noah Haidu “Momentum”…

Pianist/composer Noah Haiduis a wonderfully talented pianist whose debut CD on Posi-Tone Records, “Slipstream“, featured a quintet with Jon Irabagon (saxophone) and Jeremy Pelt (trumpet).  His sophomore effort for the label is aptly titled “Momentum” and finds Haidu leading a trio of bassist Ariel de la Portilla and drummer McClenty Hunter through a smartly balanced program of originals and standards.

Perhaps the best part of Haidu’s playing is how melodic he can be.  On pieces such as Keith Jarrett’s “Rainbow” and Thad Jones’s “A Child Is Born“, the pianist makes sure you hear the melody but, in the case of the latter tune, he wraps in quite a different arrangement. His solo is thoughtful, introspective (at times), and wistful as he gracefully and then forcefully moves away from the melody. The Cuban-born de la Portilla gives Haidu a great foundation while Hunter stays close to the beat without intruding. The gentle swing of the opening track, Jimmy Van Heusen’s “I Thought About You“, gives Haidu the opportunity to display his chops over the bassist’s active “walking” lines and the drummer’s catchy swing. The 2-handed chordal opening section of Joe Henderson’s “Serenity” is orchestral, richly melodic leaning towards the blues – the bass and drums eases into the solo section, opening a groove for Haidu to dance atop,.

The title track is an intelligent multi-sectioned piece with various changes in dynamics.  The drummer is in the driver’s seat, giving the song a joyful head of steam. There is a tinge of McCoy Tyner’s power in Haidu’s forceful solo.  The “slippery” rhythms of “Juicy” displays the fine interaction of the trio with each musician pushing the piece forward.

As I have stated numerous times, the jazz world does not lack for piano trio recordings.  What Noah Haidu and company accomplish on “Momentum” is to play with intensity, intelligence, and wit, allowing the pieces to breathe and the listener to enjoy without feeling battered or played down to.

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The Jazz Word on Noah Haidu “Momentum”…

Momentum is a strong trio recording featuring pianist Noah Haidu’s original tunes as well as a few choice covers. Haidu leads bassist Ariel de la Portilla and drummer McClenty Hunter with a strong, swinging conviction, aided by an imaginative approach and ample chops. From the familiar bounce of “I Thought About You” to a raucous take on “The End of a Love Affair” to the dancing complexity of Haidu’s own “Juicy,” the session as a whole maintains interest from track to track with an overwhelming warm vibe.

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Critical Jazz takes on Noah Haidu “Momentum”…

If James Brown was the busiest man in show business the smart money goes on Noah Haidu coming in a close second. Sitting in with numerous Post-Tone acts and the band Native Soul just begin to scratch the surface of a cross between McCoy Tyner and Horace Silver. Haidu can bang out a melody with the best of them but play with the artful finesse of a Silver or a Herbie Hancock while barely breaking a sweat. 

Momentum which is due to street in just a few short weeks is a trio with an incredibly lyrical bassist on the scene and of course McClenty Hunter who along with Haidu are my musical easy buttons. I am not as familiar with de la Portilla on bass but soon will be. Changing meter and harmonics all under the watch full eye of Haidu they work hand in glove and hopefully this is the start of a working trio. Variety is the spice of life, holds true in music too with Haidu knocking out Jimmy Van Heusen, Keith Jarrett and Joe Henderson and all on equal footing. 

I have noticed an odd occurrence, each year there seems to be one song recorded by everyone. This year the song happens to be my favorite “I Thought About You.” Thanks to a medical condition my playing days are over, I am still on the edge of my seat wondering will the slay it or will the tune crash and burn before the first change, Haidu is money, no worries here. A deceptively subtle swing, dynamic tension from dabbling in a little odd meter and the uniformity of a trio that easily bears my motto, “Swing hard or go home.” Another favorite from Thad Jones, A Child Is Born has a deep harmonic base with the dynamic tension that occurs when a major even happens in any life time. The reharms here are sublime. “Groove Interlude” is a Haidu original and both Haidu and the trio are on point every step of the way. Syncopated swing and Haidu and the boys welcome you to the land of rhythm of groove. 

Being a critic is far more than being critical. I try and approach each release as a story within itself with ideal the artist leading the way. More often than not that is a naive approach, Noah Haidu is accessible, intelligent and a master at his art. Critics are human, we have biases like everyone else. Recently a massive recording conglomerate lost their two best stars to the same label. I mention this for the way I was treated. Both Posi-Tone and their artists go out of their way to make my gig as easy as possible. It’s always better to work with someone than against them, you don’t tug on superman’s cape and you don’t spit into the wind. I have a few areas of expertise, these are some. 

There is simply nothing negative to say in regards to momentum.

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Brent Black reviews Noah Haidu “Slipstream”…

Another captivating release they may have slipped past you from 2011 would have to beSlipstream from accomplished pianist Noah Haidu. Some may recognize Haidu’s name from the jazz collective Native Soul while for a great many Haidu is a relatively new discovery in the modern jazz meets hard bop discovery that Posi-Tone has built their stellar reputation on. A precise use of chromatics yet with a wandering harmonic ear the sense of melody matches the ebb and flow of Slipstream.
The horns consisting of Jeremy Pelt on trumpet and Jon Irabagon on alto sax seem to relish the spotlight as they launch a full frontal assault on the melody while Haidu pursues a more rhythmic approach to his work. Slipstream works because Pelt and Irabagon never take the more self indulgent approach despite given ample opportunity and the end result is the working band feel of some releases from the classic Blue Note era. “Soulstep” is a nicely controlled syncopated romp with a straight ahead vibe coupled with an intriguing rhythmic beat on the melodic line as played by Haidu. Pelt’s solo is impressive as this is a trumpet player that only gets better with each subsequent release by adapting to the creative process at hand. A musical chameleon. Jon Irabagon is one of the finer alto sax players you may have never heard of but is a perfect fit in this cohesive ensemble. “Slipstream” is a tasteful somewhat mid tempo cooker that again explores the more rhythmic side of Haidu and is punctuated with just the right amount of pop and vitality without turning this tune or release into the old fashioned blowing session thus burying the prolific talents of Haidu. Naturally there has to be a standard wedged in somewhere and onSlipstream we find one of the best in Cole Porter’s “Just One Of Those Things.” A slightly odd metered tune with a slight reharmonization of the melody and the tempo taken up a notch, Haidu then personifies all that is good and right with swing. A tune and approach definitely in Haidu’s wheelhouse.
Noah Haidu is fearless on this release as he works without a harmonic net and allows each participant the opportunity to let their own unique voice shine through. While other side projects from Haidu have consistently showcased an emerging talent, the ensemble on this Posi-Tone release as the potential to elevate his musical stock quickly. A true working band with a leader that understands a musical chain is only as strong as the weakest link find Haidu performing at the very apex of his talent. A must for the collector and for any serious student of piano.
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AAJ take five with Noah Haidu…

Meet Noah Haidu:
Pianist and composer Noah Haidu is evidence that 21st century jazz can be adventurous, fresh and swing hard; that an exciting, modern pianist can play memorable melodies and soulful grooves. His powerful new Posi- Tone Records CDSlipstream is garnering impressive reviews and radio play: write-ups in All About Jazz, JazzTimes, the Financial Times, Downbeat, and eight weeks in the top 50 national Jazzweek charts. Noah has also gained the attention of the jazz world through live appearances or recordings with heavyweights such as Mike Stern, Jeremy Pelt,Ambrose Akinmusire, Benny Golson, Jon Irabagon, Eddie Henderson, Billy Hart, Duane Eubanks, and Winard Harper.

Born in Charlottesville, Virginia, Noah was exposed early on to all kinds of music: classical, avant-garde, rock, and jazz. His high school years were spent in New Jersey and Los Angeles, where he was increasingly drawn to jazz and blues piano. His father, an avid music fan, took him to countless concerts, lessons, and band rehearsals and his first jazz shows. He moved to Brooklyn, New York and it wasn’t long before he was constantly performing.

Now one of New York’s leading young jazz pianists, Noah combines new rhythmic ideas, harmonic sophistication, spontaneity, soul, and swing into his own unique approach.


Teachers and/or influences?
Teachers: Kenny Barron, Barry Harris, David Hazeltine, Bruce Barth.

Influence: Herbie Hancock, McCoy Tyner, Kenny Kirkland, Wynton Kelly, Gene Harris.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when…
I got my first record as a kid, around seven years old. It was Thriller by Michael Jackson. I listened to it beginning to end every day after school. Couldn’t decide which was my favorite song. I liked it that much.

Your sound and approach to music:

I try to build from the soul and groove that really got me into music in the first place, the common ground where Blues and Jazz meet. That said, my music is Jazz from right now, not some other period. I believe in tight arrangements attractive melodies and improvisation that goes somewhere. The goal is take the audience into the music, forget their surroundings and feel something.

Your dream band:
At some point i would like to play with Jeff “Tain” Watts. As a fan of Kenny Kirkland’s I’ve listened to him on so many great recordings. His swing and forward momentum are amazing. I also have great respect for his composing, he is one of the few people now that actually have a sense of humor about their writing, that are both working on a high level but not taking themselves so seriously that they are afraid to have fun with the music.

The first Jazz album I bought was:

Renaissance by Branford Marsalis.

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically?

I try to get outside of my own head with the music. It’s not just about playing the piano. When I play I do get lost in the music. But the way I do that is I connect with the musicians I’m playing with and the audience. I can’t enjoy performing without the audience and the band to inspire me. I use modern techniques as tools to add to a performance, not tricks to impress my musician friends.

Did you know…

Haidu is a common name in Hungary. Almost like Smith is in the United States.

CDs you are listening to now:

McCoy Tyner, The Real McCoy (Blue Note Records);
Joe Ford, Today’s Nights (Blue Moon);
Keith Jarrett, The Koln Concert (ECM Records);
Mark Turner, Yam Yam (Criss Cross).

How would you describe the state of jazz today?
I’ve talked about this a lot already. The music is healthy to my ear. But because there are many musicians competing for few gigs the camaraderie among the players has been somewhat eroded. It still exists, but it’s harder to come by then what I’ve heard about earlier generations.

What is in the near future?

The first thing is the Kitano performance in New York Thursday March 15, 2012. My trio, joined by trumpeter Jeremy Pelt who has a great feel for my music. Then the band will head to D.C. for a weekend gig at Twins Jazz, May 4-5. I’m excited to be playing new music, things I’ve been writing for my next CD. The record features my trio but will also have pieces for a larger group with several horns. There will be new compositions and also music by pop and jazz composers. Some of the “standards” will be tough to recognize because the arrangements really push the possibilities the song. I’m very excited about the project.

Also the group Native Soul that I have worked with for several years will be recording another CD in the next few months. This band has reached a new level on the bandstand recently. The fact that it’s a consistent quartet with the same members for over five years makes for a special groove and interaction on the bandstand.


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AAJ interviews Noah Haidu….

New York-based pianist Noah Haidu came to jazz through the blues, listening to the searing, soulful guitar moans of Buddy Guy and Albert King. But his training, at the age of six, had its advent in classical music. He also likes to experiment with electronics.

All these things go into the musical blender of one of the New York scene’s young piano talents; out of it comes Haidu’s open approach to the instrument—part in the jazz tradition and part willing to extend into other territories.

Haidu grew up in the 1980s, listening to a variety of music. He recalls when rock band The Police broke up and its renowned bassist, Sting, formed his own group, surrounding himself with jazz men including saxophonist Branford Marsalis, keyboardist Kenny Kirkland, drummer Omar Hakimand bassist Darryl Jones to accent his unique sound and bring a sparkling edge to his rock/pop offerings.

“There were some jazz solos on those records. I heard the band play live and that caught my attention pretty well,” says Haidu. “I was hearing jazz, Branford Marsalis albums from the ’80s. Blues. I used to play guitar as well. I would go hear Buddy Guy and B.B. King. Albert Collins. The blues guys really caught my fancy, [but] I started getting more into jazz. Some of jazz pianists that have a blues attitude in their playing, like Gene Harris, Oscar Peterson, Wynton Kelly—anything with a bluesy, soulful thing” attracted the young man’s attention.

“I always think that’s an interesting way to get into jazz. Blues. You follow bluesy jazz guys. When you get down to it, Charlie Parker is a bluesy bebop player. Sonny Stitt and Parker have a lot of blues in them. There’s a lot of continuity in that music for me.”

There’s also evidence of that continuity in Slipstream (Posi-Tone, 20101), Haidu’s first album as leader. It features an array of fine musicians like trumpeter Jeremy Pelt, saxophonist Jon Irabagon and drummer Willie Jones III. All the songs, save a quirky, catchy arrangement of “Just One of Those Things,” are penned by Haidu. It’s an album where the songs really lock into a sweet groove and the soloists are outstanding. A funky soulfulness invades the first cut, “Soulstep,” which has the delightful feel of a 1950s Blue Note recording. Meanwhile, “Break Tune” has an edgy, modern, funky feel with which Pelt, Irabagon and Haidu have plenty of fun. Pelt, one of the most superb trumpeters on the scene, blazes throughout the disk, while Haidu is rich and swinging.

“I wanted something that had melodies people could easily relate to,” said Haidu, who is already writing for his second record. “I’ve heard about people that have tunes a half-hour long with lots of over-the-top arrangements. I just tried to do something that has a sophistication and hipness to it, but with melodies and groove that people could relate to. That’s my approach to music. It can be as complex as you want, as long as people can get into it and it doesn’t push people away. You shouldn’t have to have a PhD to understand it and enjoy it.

“There are influences on there, everything from ’70s R&B,” says the pianist, “a little bit of Earth, Wind & Fire on one of the tunes, to stuff that’s influenced by Kenny Kirkland, the pianist, that kind of goes a little beyond straight-ahead. There’s even a touch of some of the more jazzy hip-hop artists, like Me’Shell NdegeOcello. Subtle influences I work in from different places.” Swing, he admits, is also a big part of his style and it’s a sweet, swinging production.

The band he assembled, which operationally gets to play the music on gigs, consists largely of cats he met at New York City’s jam sessions over the years. He and Pelt were new on the scene when they started playing sessions at [New York club] Cleopatra’s Needle. He says of Pelt, “He’s one of the few people who understand how to play a melody. He can really get into the song both as an improviser—the feeling of the song—and also in the melody.” Haidu met Irabagon most recently at a gig he was called for. “Right from the rehearsal—the same kind of thing with Jeremy—[Irabagon] understood the tunes and the harmonies. It didn’t matter if it was a modern tune or if it had kind of a swinging, soulful attitude. He seemed to be able to bring all that together. He’s a cutting-edge improviser, I love hearing him play on my more modern tunes.”

Bassist Chris Haney is an old friend from Brooklyn, and Haidu employs two drummers—Jones andJohn Davis, the latter also a Cleopatra’s Needle cohort, as is Haney. He said he called Jones for his great swing. “Whatever it was, it was all going to have a great groove. He’d have all the arrangements down perfectly. He always brings a lot of fire.” Davis, on the other hand, “has a nice relaxed, swinging groove. He’s comfortable on both the soulful, swinging jazz attitude, and also the modern compositions, different harmonies and unusual forms. That’s his stuff, so he’s all over that. He has a good groove. I love his beat.”

Haidu says he’s already had his eye on the next recording project. “I don’t know exactly what it’s going to be. I am envisioning what that session is going to be. I’m looking at things I’ve already written and seeing what would fit with the instrumentation I have in mind, with the players I have in mind, and what things do I need to write to fill in what I don’t have. It’s a process.”

Meanwhile, he’s been involved as a sideman over the years with the likes of bassist Curtis Lundy, trumpeter Duane Eubanks and drummer Winard Harper. He’s also part of a cooperative band Native Soul— which also had a 2011 release, Soul Step (Talking Drum Records)—with drummerSteve Johns, saxophonist Peter Brainin, and bassist Marcus McLaurine, playing music that draws from funk, swing, and Latin.

“It’s a pretty diverse music that we do,” Haidu says of Native Soul. “Everyone in the band writes tunes. Some of the tunes have a soulful, bluesy or gospel element. I play a little bit of Hammond organ and even some Fender Rhodes. Some of the tunes on that record also have some electric bass. They [the group] do a funky version of one of Jimi Hendrix’s tunes [‘Castles Made of Sand’]. There’s a tune, ‘Soulstep,’ that is on my CD, that ended up being the title track of the Native Soul CD. On my CD, it’s a quintet with acoustic piano. On the Native Soul thing, it’s a quartet. It’s got soprano sax, and Fender Rhodes. It has maybe a bit of a Herbie Hancock fusion kind of thing to it. … There’s a little bit more of the electric stuff in that band, although all the music works very well with acoustic stuff. It’s a little different attitude.”

He explains, “I do play around town with different groups playing electric keyboards. I’m still active in that genre,” but notes that electric piano is not really his instrument of choice right now. “It’s part of making a living,” he says lightheartedly. “If I didn’t have to make a living, I would have to decide whether I just wanted to focus on acoustic piano; I think there is a place for keyboards in jazz, [but] I’m not sure if I’m going to be one of the people that explores that—or not right now. But it’s a possibility.”

In that regard, Kirkland’s Kenny Kirkland (GRP 1991) had synthesizers on it, and Pelt’s electric band WiRED—last heard on Shock Value: Live at Smoke (MaxJazz 2007)—is something he enjoyed, and could influence his future explorations.

Haidu—whose piano influences run from one of his teachers, Kenny Barron, to McCoy Tyner, Hancock and Kirkland—comes from a family full of classical pianists. A native of Charlottesville, VA, he really did his growing up in New Jersey, where he took lessons from his grandmother (a classical player) at a young age. His mother and two aunts also played classical, and his uncle, Ian Hobson, performs all over the world at concerts and festivals. All that is on his mother’s side of the family.

But there was plenty of influence from his father as well. “He took me to a lot of jazz and blues concerts, things that I was interested in when I was younger. Rock. Everything.” As a teenager, he began to see that music would be his career path. “It’s not an easy thing as a teenager to convince your family that’s what you’re going to do,” says Haidu. “I felt pretty clear about it from a young age. I played piano and guitar. I used to work on both of them. It took a while to sort out which of them was going to be my main instrument.”

Out of high school, he went into the jazz program at Rutgers University, where piano, and also jazz, jumped into focus. He studied with Barron there.

“He didn’t show me a million technical things on the piano,” Haidu says of his teacher, “Just playing with him, I would really pick up on his musicality and his soulfulness and his phrasing. He’s the type of guy who can take a standard like ‘Darn That Dream’ and at any given time—you could call him up in the middle of the night and say, ‘Hey Kenny, it’s two in the morning, can you play ‘Darn That Dream,’ and he would probably play a masterpiece. It doesn’t matter where or when, what town. Every time he played it, it was incredible.”

He played jam sessions in New Jersey, Philadelphia, and even a little in New York City, while in school. “That kind of musicality seemed like something I couldn’t learn in school, so in a way, I think Kenny [Barron] was the catalyst for me quitting Rutgers,” he notes. “I took a little time off, investigating the scene in Philadelphia. I started getting a few gigs in Philly, but I noticed it was very hard to break into that scene. I ended up moving to New York. I wasn’t a very strong player at that time, but I knew I wanted to move to New York and be around the heart of the jazz community and start to make a living. That’s when I started playing the electric keyboards. That became mighty quickly what I was doing to survive.”

Playing jam sessions and other small gigs got his name around, and his buildup on the scene was gradual. “I still feel it’s building,” he says. “Over the years, I’m getting more and more busy and more in demand with certain people. The schedule filled up to the point where you’re running from gig to gig. Then people want to study with you [he teaches at the Brooklyn Conservatory]. I’m lucky with students and stuff.”

Meanwhile, Haidu has met and played with other rising musicians like trumpeters Ambrose Akinmusire and Gregory Rivkin. “There’ve been a number of people that have called, who I’ve enjoyed working with.”

He’s not just checking out the younger cats, but learning from jazz icons as well. “Recently I got to go hear Keith Jarrett for the first time. I had never heard a concert at Carnegie Hall, and I went to hear him play solo. I was very taken by the music; it was one of the most musical concerts [I’ve ever seen]. There wasn’t a whole lot of ego going on. He just sat there and played music.

“One of the things I try to do with my own group, when I play music, is have a certain variety,” Haidu continues. “I don’t want to play a whole set of ballads, or a whole set of up-tempo. I want to do both. I want to do swinging stuff, modern stuff. As long as there’s feeling in it, I think it’s all there. Keith Jarrett was incredible because he did all of that, all by himself, at the piano. There were moments of gospel, moments of modern classical. There were standards. There were things that sounded like boogie woogie. He never played like anybody except himself. His own voice was there the entire time. It was a beautiful concert. That definitely had an impact.”

Haidu takes on the challenges of being a Big Apple-based jazz musician in trying times, and does so with a positive attitude. And it’s working for him; the cat can play his butt off. “Even though it’s difficult, there’re a lot of people playing. We can all check each other out and pick up things from each other. I’m happy about that. I think it’s a good time for jazz.”

“Even though there’s a million people and not enough gigs, I like all the different people who are playing and all the different influences right now. Brad Mehldau is on one end, then you have Keith Jarrett. Lincoln Center and Wynton Marsalis. There’s a great variety of approaches to the music and attitudes about the music. There’s a lot of good stuff going on, a lot of different stuff going on. I’m open to anything new. If it seems musical to me, I’m all for it.”

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Another review for Noah Haidu “Slipstream”…

Noah Haidu has been an important, if under-recognized, contributor to the jazz scene as a member of Native Soul and a sideman with Curtis Lundy, Duane Eubanks, and others. With the release of �”Slipstream,” it’s Haidu’s turn to make a statement as a leader, and it’s an impressive one. The first step is to recruit musicians and Haidu goes right to the top with Jeremy Pelt on trumpet; Jon Irabagon, alto sax; Chris Haney, bass; and John Davis and Willie Jones III taking turns on drums.

Pelt, widely considered the best up-and-coming trumpeter in jazz, and Irabagon, a recent first-prize winner in the Thelonious Monk Competition, are absolutely superb on every solo. They also form an air-tight horn section, playing Haidu’s irresistible heads on tunes like “Soulstep” and “Where We Are Right Now.”

That brings me to the album’s greatest strength: Haidu’s compositions. Never falling back on clich�s and never venturing so far out that he loses the listener, Haidu occupies that sweet spot where melodic adventurousness meets harmonic elegance. And, as a pianist, he is every bit as exciting as the great players in his band.

Ron Netsky / Rochester City Newspaper


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Ken Blanchard weighs in on Noah Haidu “Slipstream”….

The Joyful Jazz of Noah Haidu

As spring slowly and tentatively emerges from under a  long winter, your South Dakota jazz fan dearly needs something to cheer him up.  I am listening to Noah Haidu’s Slipstream.  It is doing the trick.
Haidu is a New York pianist and member of the group Native Soul.  He is a student of Kenny Baron and Barry Harris.  The personnel on Slipstream include Jeremy Pelt on trumpet, whom I have been keeping an ear to.  Jon Irabagon plays a fine alto saxophone.  Chris Haney plays bass like he means it.  John Davis and Willie Jones III alternate on drums.
This is a very tight and well-conducted band.  The music is energetic, straight ahead jazz joy.  I especially like Haidu’s style of playing behind his horns: leading by commenting with one phrase after another.  His solos are gorgeous.  Maybe the best cut on the album ‘Float’, which is a trio piece with Haney’s bass and Davis on drums.  Pelt shines on ‘Take Your Time’.  Or maybe the best cut is the opening ‘Soulstep’.  That I can’t make up my mind is a good sign.
All I can tell you for sure is that I liked Slipstream, and you will too.  Buy it.  Support your friendly neighborhood jazz man.  You can hear a couple of cuts on my Live365 station.