Brian Haas

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Brian Haas
Background information
Birth nameBrian Roy Haas
Born (1974-03-18) March 18, 1974 (age 45)
Tulsa, Oklahoma
GenresJazz, pop, rock
Years active1994–present
LabelsRoyal Potato Family

Brian Roy Haas (born March 18, 1974) is an American jazz pianist and founding member of the band Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey.

Early years - 1999[edit]

Haas spent his formative years in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, a suburb of Tulsa. He began studying classical piano at age five. He won local and regional piano competitions at a young age. When he was sixteen, he won the Oklahoma Concerto Competition. He performed with the Tulsa Philharmonic.[1]

After graduating from high school, he received a scholarship to study classical music at the University of Tulsa, but while in college he became interested in jazz and switched his major.[2] By the end of his freshman year at TU Haas had already performed his junior and senior recitals. As he moved into his sophomore year he began to spend more and more time along with the piano. As days of practice often stretched to eight and twelve hours in length, his fervor for classical music diminished. In a 2008 interview from the TU Alumni Magazine Haas said "It was hard not to notice how much fun the guys in the jazz program were having. They were always playing together, and there was a very communal vibe to it. I was immediately attracted to it." While attending TU, he began playing with the school's jazz ensembles and discovered that jazz seemed to come more naturally than the classical music he had been playing his whole life.

In 1993 he founded the Sphere Jazz Quartet. During the following summer, he was accepted by the Aspen Music Festival and School to study composition with Lukas Foss.

JFJO 1994-2004[edit]

Haas formed the Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey with members of the Sphere Jazz Quartet and Matthew Edwards, Rod Mackey, Reed Mathis, and Kyle Wright. It was in 1994, during his junior year at TU, when Brian founded (JFJO), which started touring full-time in 1995. When Brian graduated from TU in 1996 with a Bachelor of Arts in Music, the ensemble had already begun performing all across the country.

In 1999, after four years of constant touring, JFJO secured record, management and agency deals all within a six-month period and suddenly the little jazz band from Tulsa was playing the biggest jazz clubs in America and touring with many of their heroes.

JFJO became a trio in the summer of 2000, initially performing as the Jacob Fred Trio in January 2000. Drummer Matthew Edwards left the group in early 2000; his replacement was Richard Haas, the brother of Brian, who performed with the group until October 2001. Jason Smart joined in late October 2001, becoming a member of the band until 2007. From 2000 to 2004, JFJO averaged nearly 250 performances a year in Canada and the U.S.

JFJO 2004-2009[edit]

In late 2004, the now nationally renown ensemble secured a record deal with a sister company of Rykodisc called Hyena Records. With their critically acclaimed albums being distributed worldwide, suddenly JFJO was playing all over the world to huge crowds. In 2004, JFJO released their first album with Hyena Records, Walking with Giants.

2005 saw the release of their second Hyena album, The Sameness of Difference, an album of 13 songs (all but one recorded in one day) produced by recording heavyweight and Hyena label head Joel Dorn. Unlike the all-originals Giants, more than half of Sameness's tunes are covers of songs by a remarkably eclectic set of composers (Bjork, Brian Wilson, Charles Mingus, Dave Brubeck, Neil Young). This effort continued in the group's quest for constant change and exploration, once again re-imagining their creative horizons and blurring genres.

In 2007 longtime trio drummer Jason Smart departed the band and in June 2007, it was announced that Josh Raymer would be replacing Smart on drums, who has continued on until present day.

2008 found the band touring predominantly as a quartet behind their 2008 Hyena release Lil' Tae Rides Again, which was released in April of that year. "Lil' Tae" is considered a departure for JFJO, as it contains many electronic elements. The band recorded the rough tracks for "Lil' Tae", then asked friend of the band and electronic music producer Tae Meyulks to remix the tracks to his liking; hence the album title Lil' Tae Rides Again.[3]

Following the album's release, JFJO took Meyulks' creations and transcribed them for live performance, performing the album in its entirety night after night during a spring 2008 tour. An official live version, Lil' Tae Rides Again / Live was compiled and edited by the band, combining performances from Portland, Denver, and Tulsa, and released as a digital download available through several online vendors.[4]

During the 2008 tours, the quartet lineup shifted depending on the tour, and was either Haas/Raymer/Mathis/Tomshany or Haas/Raymer/Combs/Tomshany. The band performed high-profile shows at venues such as the JVC Jazz Festival in Newport, Rhode Island and Lincoln Center in NYC. In October 2008 the band returned to Europe as a trio (Haas/Mathis/Raymer). The tour brought great acclaim including a Guinness Jazz Award for Best New Band at the Cork Jazz Festival. This tour would prove to be the last full tour with founding member Mathis, who left to "pursue other musical endeavors." Two other trio shows were played on December 5 and 6.

2008 ended with a special New Year's Eve show in Tulsa, Oklahoma where the band played their own set as well as a 'superjam' set with members of Callupsie & The Doldrums featuring the music of Michael Jackson, Prince, and Lionel Richie.

The lineup of Haas/Raymer/Hayes/Combs made its debut at the NYC Winter Jazz Festival on January 10, 2009 to a packed house at Kenny's Castaways in New York City.

In early 2009, Jacob Fred formed their own record label, named Kinnara Records. The name Kinnara was chosen due to the members' strong identification with Buddhist and Hindu ideals. The half-bird, half-woman goddess Kinnara is representative of beauty, grace and accomplishment, and translates to "heavenly music" in Sanskrit.

On July 17, 2009, JFJO announced a cluster of seven nights in which they would be opening for Phish bassist Mike Gordon. The tour is set to run through venues in the Midwest, New England, and Ontario.

Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey were winners of the 8th annual Independent Music Awards Vox Pop vote for best New Age Album Lil' Tae Rides Again.

In September 2009 JFJO released the EP One Day in Brooklynn, marking their debut on Kinnara Records, their own Sony Red imprint. This album also marked the debut of the quartet lineup of Haas/Combs/Hayes/Raymer.

JFJO 2010 - 2018[edit]

The first half of 2010 found JFJO touring both the West & East Coasts here in the States, as well as the entire month of March in Europe. In April the band announced that they were parting ways with bassist Matt Hayes and would be bringing on Kansas City resident Jeff Harshbarger as their new double bassist. Harshbarger made his JFJO premier on April 17 with two consecutive performances for Record Store Day and the release of the 7" vinyl single "The Sensation of Seeing Light", produced by Haas.

2010 also marked the release their 20th album, Stay Gold, as CD & double vinyl on June 22. In support of the release, the band toured with the new quartet lineup in June including dates at the Rochester International Jazz Festival and the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. The band toured in September and October 2010 stretching from New Orleans to Louisville to Seattle to LA.

In June 2010 JFJO premiered their "Ludwig" project, entailing of rearrangements of Beethoven's 3rd & 6th symphonies. The quartet was accompanied by the Bartlesville Symphony Orchestra for the world premiere at the OK Mozart festival.

In January 2011 JFJO recorded a suite of music based on the Tulsa Race Riot.[3] The Race Riot Suite debuted live on May 20, 2011 at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center. The album reached No. 1 on the CMJ Jazz chart.

In Summer 2013, Brian Haas, Josh Raymer, and Chris Combs began performing as a trio; Haas effectively became the band's bassist, now using a Moog bass keyboard to his left atop the piano. During this time, the band reworked material dating back to 1994, and in November 2013 recorded the album Millions: Live in Denver at DazzleJazz in Denver, CO. This vinyl only endeavor enjoyed a sold out release for Record Store Day 2014. The band had a successful American tour in support of this record from March 19 to June 21 of 2014.

JFJO's second release of 2014 and 26th album "Worker" came out in October 2014 from label Royal Potato Family. It features strong electronic sound influences. The band toured to support the album, including a show at the famous Snug Harbor jazz club in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Solo Work[edit]

Haas signed with Rykodisc/Hyena Records, which released his first album, The Truth About Hollywood (2005),[2] a combination of Hass's compositions and cover versions of songs by Thelonious Monk.[4] He toured to support the album, performing at the Blue Note in New York, the Zeitgeist Gallery in Boston, and the Hot House in Chicago. During the tour he was joined by guest musicians Fareed Haque, Marco Benevento, Mike Dillon, Marc Friedman, Joe Russo, and Skerik. In 2006 Haas toured as a founding member of The Dead Kenny G's with Skerik on saxophone and Mike Dillon on drums.

Haas released Petting Sounds (2009), an improvised symphony for solo piano that was recorded in one session. The album was recorded in Ojai, California, in 2008 at the Institute for Universal Healing Arts with the same UA mixing board that was used for the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds. The album was produced by Teddy Jack Russell and Brian Haas.

In October 2010, after the last JFJO tour of the year, Haas played a number of duo shows around Los Angeles with DJ Jeremy Sole, including the KCRW Halloween Ball and an opening set for Beats Antique.

In 2013 Haas released 'Frames', a collaboration with drummer Matt Chamberlain which was meticulously through-composed by Haas and performed with exacting precision by the duo. In 2016 the duo would again collaborate, this time on the album Prometheus Risen, a free-flowing, no-holds-barred, in-the-moment encounter based on daredevil instincts, a shared arranger's aesthetic and mutual trust. While all the keyboard parts, Moog bass lines, ambient washes, textures, loops and huge groove playing on the kit might suggest a meticulously-crafted project involving multiple layers of overdubbing and tons of post-production work, the entire album was in fact done live in the studio.


As like vibration attracts like vibration, it's no surprise that after years of collaboration, vibraphonist Mike Dillon, pianist Brian Haas, bassist James Singleton and drummer Johnny Vidacovich should finally become one with the formation of the Nolatet and the subsequent release of their debut album, Dogs. These four men have been in each other's lives for as long as they can remember. Vidacovich and Singleton have been New Orleans’ best rhythm section since 1977, having backed everyone from Dizzy Gillespie to Professor Longhair to James Booker. Dillon and Haas have been sharing bills and sitting in with each other's bands, including Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey, Garage A Trois and Dead Kenny Gs, on the same touring circuit since the mid-’90s. All four have played together countless times in numerous configurations. Individually, they are fiercely independent iconoclasts and bandleaders who compose, play and navigate their musical lives true to their own idiosyncratic visions.

When it came time to record their debut album, Dogs, they’d set up shop at New Orleans’ famed Esplanade Studios, focusing on original material influenced by their diverse lives and perceptions as musicians. The quartet spans three decades in age—Vidacovich and Singleton in their 60s, Dillon in his 50s and Haas in his 40s—which informs the music with a wellspring of experiences and a multi-generational musical sensibility. While traditional jazz is the backbone and starting point for the Nolatet, each member's piercing individuality and personal history allows innovation to be a constant throughout the recording. The entire album was recorded in one day, all first or second takes with no overdubs. Sketches for compositions were in place, but ultimately this is improvised music made in the moment with wild abandon and deep inspiration.

Hass has worked with Scott Amendola, Andrew Barr, Brad Barr, Marco Benevento, Bluetech, Bonerama, Mike Clark, Les Claypool, Karl Denson, Mike Dillon, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Annie Ellicott, John Ellis, Eskmo, Robin Eubanks, Jason Fraticelli, Marc Friedman, Bill Frisell, Galactic, George Garzon, Cochemea Gastelum, Charlie Hunter, Kirk Joseph, Elliot Levin, Joseph "Zigaboo" Modileste, moe., Stanton Moore, Rebirth Brass Band, Joe Russo, John Scofield, Skerik, Mark Southerland, Vibesquad, Johnny Vidacovich, and Welder.


Album information
Nolatet - No Revenge Necessary
  • 2018
Brian Haas & Matt Chamberlain - Prometheus Risen
  • 2016
Nolatet - Dogs
  • 2016
JFJO - The Battle for Earth
  • 2015
JFJO - Millions: Live in Denver
  • 2014
JFJO - Worker
  • 2014
Brian Haas & Matt Chamberlain - Frames
  • October 2013
JFJO - The Race Riot Suite: A. Solo Piano - B. Solo Piano Remixed
  • February 2012
JFJO - The Race Riot Suite
  • August 2011
Stay Gold
  • June 2010
JFJO - The Sensation of Seeing Light [7" vinyl single]
  • April 2010
JFJO - One Day in Brooklyn [EP]
  • September 2009
Brian Haas (solo) - Petting Sounds
  • 2009
JFJO - Winterwood
  • January 2009
JFJO - Lil' Tae Rides Again: LIVE
  • 2008
JFJO - Lil' Tae Rides Again
  • April 2008
JFJO - Rich Mahogany [EP]
  • Fall 2007
JFJO - Tomorrow We'll Know Today: Live in USA and Europe
  • 2006
JFJO - The Sameness of Difference
  • 2006
Brian Haas (solo) - The Truth About Hollywood
  • 2005
JFJO - 4 Improvisations for the Ghosts
  • 2005
JFJO - Walking with Giants
  • 2004
JFJO - Symbiosis Osmosis
  • 2003
JFJO - Slow Breath, Silent Mind
  • 2003
JFJO - Telluride is Acoustic
  • 2002
JFJO - All Is One: Live in New York City
  • 2002
JFJO - Self Is Gone
  • 2000
JFJO - Bloom
  • 2000
JFJO - Live at Your Mama's House
  • 2000
JFJO - Sean Layton: A Musical Retrospective
  • 1998-1999
JFJO - Welcome Home
  • 1998
JFJO - Live in Tokyo
  • 1996
JFJO - Live at the Lincoln Continental
  • 1995


  1. ^ Minderman, Dean C. (March 31, 2011). "Interview: Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey Keyboardist Brian Haas on the Band's St. Louis Show Tonight". The Riverfront Times. Retrieved December 18, 2017.
  2. ^ a b Collar, Matt. "Brian Haas". AllMusic. Retrieved December 18, 2017.
  3. ^ Gilbert, Andrew (October 2, 2011). "Tragedy, triumph in Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey's 'Race Riot Suite'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 18, 2017.
  4. ^ Chadbourne, Eugene. "The Truth About Hollywood". AllMusic. Retrieved December 18, 2017.

External links[edit]