Listen to Trouble (No.2)
Over the span of his 25 year music career, native Texan and Austin resident Elias Haslanger has carved a unique and distinguished place in jazz history as a saxophonist, composer and band leader whose playing and writing has drawn comparisons to John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Ben Webster and Wayne Shorter. He has performed, recorded and toured with many world-class artists including Ellis Marsalis, Maynard Ferguson, Christopher Cross, Asleep at the Wheel, Alejandro Escovedo, The Four Tops, and The Temptations among countless others.
Elias has performed around the United States and Europe at clubs like Snug Harbor in New Orleans, Jazz Alley in Seattle, The Elephant in Austin, and The Blue Note in New York. He has also acted as a guest artist/lecturer at universities around the nation. Mentored by the legendary saxophonists Harvey Pittel and Dick Oatts, Elias began to explore the instrument’s vast potential by studying saxophone at the University of Texas and then at the Manhattan School of Music. His interest in writing music culminated in a Master’s Degree in Composition at Texas State University.
In 1996, Elias recorded his second CD as a leader entitled For the Moment, which received substantial national airplay, reaching #11 on the Gavin Jazz charts and #14 on the Jazziz Radioactive chart. Herb Wong from JazzTimes magazine wrote “Haslanger is clearly in the forefront of the young, new, fresh players. He has respect for tradition as well as being himself. He is a merger of the past and the future.” Elias was awarded “Best Horn Player” by the Austin Chronicle and in 1997; Elias was awarded the Jazz Instrumental Soloist College Outstanding Performance for the 20th Annual Downbeat Student Music Awards. In 1998 Elias was awarded the Mitte Scholarship from TSU for academic achievement and began to teach music theory and composition at Texas State.
That same year, Elias collaborated with the patriarch of the modern jazz scene, Ellis Marsalis on Elias’s critically acclaimed release Kicks are for Kids of which DownBeat magazine writer Michael Point wrote “Haslanger is now a full grown talent, both as a composer and instrumentalist whose future has almost unlimited potential and should be regarded in national terms.”
Kicks are for Kids won praise from fans and critics around the world and the recording was recognized as one of the top five jazz records of the year by Rick Mitchell of the Houston Chronicle, while the Austin Chronicle’s writers Jay Trachtenberg and Christopher Hess voted it as the #1 and #3 best records of all Austin artists. DownBeat magazine writer Michael Point voted Kicks are for Kids as one of the top ten best CDs to come out of Austin in the 90′s and the recording reached #4 on the Gavin Jazz charts with 180 radio stations around the country playing it. Elias was also awarded “Best Jazz Group” by the Austin Chronicle later that year. During this time, Elias continued to teach theory, saxophone and composition at TSU in San Marcos before moving to Brooklyn, New York in 2000.
While living in Brooklyn, Elias was contacted by jazz trumpeter and musical icon Maynard Ferguson who invited him to tour the United States as part of his Big Bop Nouveau band. As the featured tenor soloist in the band, Elias held the same chair as Wayne Shorter held many years earlier and the experience touring with Maynard helped to shape Elias’s philosophy as a band leader and performer.
Since returning to his hometown of Austin, TX in 2004, Elias has kept an active performing and recording schedule including releasing the 2006 recording Dream Story and performing weekly engagements in Austin, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and New Orleans. Elias recently celebrated the release of his 5th CD as a leader Church on Monday featuring Texas jazz icon Dr. James Polk, the former musical director for Ray Charles.
Says Jay Trachtenberg from the Austin Chronicle about Church on Monday “Haslanger has consistently demonstrated a penchant for ageless chestnuts, and this session is no exception. His version of “On a Clear Day” is simply divine, fashioning a creamy, satin-smooth tone that harkens back to an earlier era of big-toned tenor men. Four stars.”
Elias and the band, which also features guitar virtuoso Jake Langley, hold a residency at Austin’s famous Continental Club Gallery every Monday at 8:30pm. The CD is currently in rotation on radio stations around the country and is receiving positive reviews from writers and fans across the globe.
“Simply put, Haslanger is a major talent who could find his way into the upper echelons of jazz with a judicious marketing push and smaller gaps between recordings.”
-Glenn Astarita, AllAboutJazz.com