Innovative trumpeter Taylor Haskins skillfully toggles between jazz and everything else, most recently on his terrific electro-kissed album Recombination (2011, Nineteen-Eight) and his playing catches you off guard in a most wonderful way. A member of Guillermo Klein’s ‘Los Gauchos’, flutist Jamie Baum’s Septet+ and Dave Holland’s Big Band, Haskins thinks and plays outside the box, the opposite of free form improvisation actually, with welcoming compositions and a sweetly emotive tone that sets him apart.
Fuzzy Logic is both a surprise and welcome next step in his process as a musician and artist. Haskins has written for film and commercials for 15 years, so the record has a cinematic sweep with high-grade melodies and lush harmonics courtesy of a trio of string players that Haskins added to his quartet. The strings add color, drama and a confident beauty to his compositions, which are textural and involving. There’s a hint of Ennio Morricone and Nina Rota in this music that I credit to Haskins’ deft use of strings and his own grounded, magisterial tone that airbrushes the songs with a native emotionality.
As a composer, Haskins makes boldly modern music, adding guitarist Ben Monder to strike all the right notes around the trumpeter’s solos, but this album is consistently anchored in a jazz realm. Bassist Kermit Driscoll and drummer Jeff Hirschfeld underscore the vitality of every tune with captivating work on “Four Moons,” the title track and Thomas Dolby’s “Airwaves” where Haskins’ band and the strings align in flawless formation. Alluring to the last, the album concludes with a buoyant “I Believe In You” and Tom Waits’ “Take It With Me,” a fillip of heartfelt Americana with Haskins on melodica. There’s nothing fuzzy about Haskins’ logic on this superb and special album. (10 tracks; 44 minutes)