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07/19/14

Taylor Haskins
Fuzzy Logic
Sunnyside

Taylor Haskins never once blows hot on Fuzzy Logic. This isn’t about pyrotechnic declarations of agility and endurance. Instead, Haskins’ trumpet lines are measured, bold and warm, always pronounced but never overwhelming. It really couldn’t go any other way either—to do so would feel wrong. Haskins, guitarist Ben Monder, bassist Kermit Driscoll and drummer Jeff Hirshfield are more interested in laying out tidy, intimate scenarios, their broad, graceful strokes filled in almost as afterthoughts with more intricate, well-detailed colorings. Haskins and crew hint often at grandeur but deliberately (and thankfully) keep a distance from bombast.

They don’t get to this place alone. The incorporation of a string trio—violinist Joyce Hammann, violist Lois Martin and cellist Jody Redhage—is just what’s required to enhance the definitions that Haskins introduces. “Perspectives,” one of the album’s eight Haskins originals, rolls out at a glacial pace, the strings creating a tension that’s immediately pierced by a single, crystalline Monder note before Haskins delivers a typically unambiguous melody line. Even as it crescendos two-thirds of the way in, Haskins keeps his cool—only to ultimately hand the reins to Monder, who pierces the fabric by blissfully shredding his way toward a climactic resolution.

Before that highlight track, “Somewhere I’ve Never Travelled,” the opener, sets the tone with a Native American drone flute intro that rightly suggests the delicate and organic nature of things to come. On “Conviction,” a sense of foreboding prevails, while the closing entry recasts Tom Waits’ “Take It With Me”—Haskins’ melodica mimicking a lonesome harmonica—as a prairie campfire tune. That rusticism is one of many moods that emanate from Haskins and his cohorts on a recording that’s never anything less than enveloping.

Originally published in June 2014
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