“As far as playing jazz, no other art form, other than conversation, can give the satisfaction of spontaneous interaction.” Upon my Google search for famous jazz quotes, I found this one via Stan Getz to be particularly thought provoking and relevant for our most recent Spotlight.
If you’re a commonplace fan of jazz, then you’re familiar with legends of yore such as Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane, Charles Mingus, and so on. But what about modern jazz artists? Consumers of music certainly aren’t force-fed jazz artists like we are pop, hip-hop, country pop, generic rock, etc. If you’re curious about modern proprietors of jazz, look no further than Milwaukee native Augie Haas.
Augie has dedicated his life to jazz music, specifically the trumpet, and it has paid off. He earned his Bachelor of Music in Jazz Studies at Roosevelt University’s Chicago College of the Performing Arts, and after that he attended The University of Miami’s Frost School of Music Conservatory for a Masters in Studio Music in Jazz. He’s released four studio albums, and soon (about a week) he will drop his fifth.
He’s achieved a great deal of success in his time, and I will let him divulge right…now…
Music Mecca: So you’ll be releasing your fifth album “Have We Met?” July 20th. Could you tell us a bit about the process and inspiration behind it?
Augie Haas: Well this album is a little different for me, just because it’s kind of my vocal debut. I’m not singing on any of my other albums. And I basically just wanted to do songs I really liked and enjoyed playing, and I thought other people might like as well.
MM: Do you plan on doing a tour in support of it?
AH: Yeah you know I’ll be bouncing around a few places other than New York, like Milwaukee and Miami, and at the end of August I’ll be in Poland for a week, then Germany for a little while. I think starting next year I’m going to try to start touring with a band a little more.
MM: I see you’re a current member of the orchestra for Aladdin on Broadway. How long have you been doing that?
AH: I’ve been doing that almost four years now actually. It’s been running for awhile.
MM: How frequent are the shows?
AH: There are 8 shows a week, 52 weeks a year. It definitely keeps me busy. It’s good though because for the Broadway gig you have flexibility to take off and work on your creative projects, or go on tour and all those things, and then it’s there when you get back.
MM: Could you tell me about the book you published, “Build Your Range?”
AH: So I published Build Your Range in 2015 I want to say. I wrote a dissertation on a similar topic and it had gotten like 65,000 downloads, so I decided to make a more practical practice routine for trumpet players.
MM: Did you self-publish it?
AH: I did. I shopped it around a bit, but everybody just wanted so much control and everything over my hard work, and I just wasn’t willing to part with it. I created a label, a record label, for the same reasons, so now I just umbrella any project under my label Playtime Music.
MM: I see you are a Milwaukee native and that you played the national anthem at a Packers’ game. Probably a foolish question, but did you grow up a fan?
AH: Yeah, I’ve actually done it a few times. And I did grow up a Packers’ fan. When I was growing up they actually played two games a year at County Stadium when it was still a ballpark, and I would always go with family and friends to those games.
MM: What years did you play there?
AH: The first time I did it was 2004, like awhile ago when I was in my undergrad. This past season I did it with two of my buddies from Aladdin. We did like a trio version.
MM: Do you recall the first time you heard jazz or specifically the trumpet and thought “okay, this is for me.”
AH: I’m the youngest of five, and all my siblings played instruments and failed miserably. When I was in 5th grade and they put out the instruments I was like, “hey I want to play French horn,” and they were like, “well maybe with a name like Augie you should play trumpet.” And it pretty much went from there. Once I had it in my hands I just never wanted to put it down.
MM: Do you have certain hobbies you do that helps inspire your music? Feeding the ducks at Central Park, hot yoga, shuffleboard, etc?
AH: I’m super into cooking actually. I like to make things from scratch like my own pasta, dough for pizza, and that kind of thing. I’m into making most cuisines, except I stay away from Indian just because the amount of money you spend on spices. You might as well have someone do it who knows how to do it right. Italian, Mexican, or anything with fresh ingredients I’m down to give a whirl.
MM: Do you foresee yourself living in NYC for the long haul or does Milwaukee call you back?
AH: I think its New York for the long haul. My wife and I were talking about it the other day. She thought we’d only be in this apartment for three or four years, but we just signed a seven year lease or something.
MM: What does Milwaukee do better than New York?
AH: Cheese curds, in particular. I can’t find any decent ones outside of Wisconsin. The New Glarus Brewing Company doesn’t sell outside of Wisconsin, so it’s always good to go home and have a Spotted Cow or any of there other great beers.
MM: If you weren’t playing music, what could you see yourself doing?
AH: I’d probably be cooking. I could see myself being a chef somewhere.
You can (and should) learn more about Augie’s sonic endeavors on his website HERE.