Andy Haas

Ask The Oracle
Resonant Music 009

You can go home again; at least that’s what reedist Andy Haas, a Torontonian domiciled in New York, proves with this CD. Haas, who will be playing solo saxophone at OCAD University October 17 with trumpet and electronics player JP Carter in a concert presented by the Music Gallery, was in Toronto last year to record this fine eight-track set of improvisations alongside locals Colin Fisher playing saxophone and strings, Aaron Lumley on bass, plus Brandon Valdivia and Matthew Dunn on percussion.

Although Haas was a member of the Martha & The Muffins pop bands and the other four are imbedded in this city’s improv community, the tunes mostly balance on the boundaries among rock, jazz and world music. With Haas playing hojok or Korean oboe as well as soprano saxophone and flute, some of the tracks are as delicate as Eastern court music, others are dependent on choppy guitar distortion or overblown reed riffs which could have migrated from 1960s Energy Music.

Especially pertinent is comparing a track such as Curse of the Horns to Scattered Through the Strings. On the former Lumley’s thick bass scrubs concentrate the proceedings with a Westernized ostinato as both percussionists clatter and ruff while Fisher on tenor saxophone and Haas on soprano snort and squeal in tandem. In contrast the other piece exposes Fisher’s command of the multi-string guzheng, with his spidery glissandi weaving a polyphonic sound web through which Haas’ saxophone lines cut with sharp reed bites.

—Ken Waxman

— For Whole Note Vol. 18 #2