Graham Haynes


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Regarded as an innovator on cornet and flugelhorn, an extraordinary composer, and an emerging force in contemporary electronic music and world music, Graham Haynes has redefined and deconstructed that genre we still call jazz. While his main instrument is the cornet, he is by no means making jazz music these days. Haynes uses technology to create imaginative, subtle sonic environments. Even amidst electronic processing, his horn stands out, providing a level of expression that humanizes and elevates the synthetic sounds.

The son of legendary jazz drummer Roy Haynes, Graham was born in 1960 and raised in Hollis, Queens, where he was surrounded by innovators (his neighbors included Roy Eldridge, Milt Jackson, and Jaki Byard). While studying composition, harmony and theory at Queens College, Graham developed an interest in classical and electronic music (Robert Moog was professor of electronic music at that time). In 1979, he met alto saxophonist Steve Coleman. They formed a band called Five Elements, which launched the M-Base collective, an influential group of New York improvisers. Haynes spent much of the 1980s collaborating with Coleman and Cassandra Wilson. In the late 1980s he formed his own ensemble, Graham Haynes and No Image, and recorded his first album as a leader, “What Time it Be?”

During the late 1980's, Haynes immersed himself in a wide range of African, Arabic, and South Asian music which prompted his move to Paris in 1990. There he recorded Nocturne Parisian and “The Griots Footsteps”, for French PolyGram Records. Haynes spent the next three years studying and performing with masters of African and Asian music, occasionally returning to the U.S. to work with artists such as Ed Blackwell, George Russell, Uri Caine, David Murray and many others. In 1993, Haynes moved back to New York City, where he began investigating sampling and hip hop music. The album “Transition” came out of this investigation. His next project, “Tones for the Twenty-First Century”, combined sound effects, textures, drones, and samples, layered over Haynes’ electronically manipulated horn.

Graham was extensively working with DJs within drum-n-bass scene in NYC, UK and Europe throughout the 90’s. In 2000, he recorded the critically acclaimed “BPM” (Knitting Factory Records), a fusion of drum-n-bass programming and operatic music, specifically the late music of Richard Wagner. Haynes uses technology to create imaginative and even subtle sonic environments, and, of course, he is an evocative player on his primary instrument, the good old-fashioned cornet. “Even amidst all the electronic processing, his horn stands out, providing a level of expression that humanizes and elevates BPM’s synthetic sounds.” (Dave Lynch, All Music Guide).

Since 2000, Haynes has collaborated as music director and composer on the following multimedia projects: – Electric Church, a multimedia event series at Walker Stage, NYC (2000; Haynes served as producer and curator of the event). – Sights and Sounds, multimedia collaboration with visual artists at Bronx River Arts Center-Artist Space Program (2000). – Afrofuturistic, with writer Tracie Morris, presented at The Kitchen, NYC (2003). – A Cruel New World, a dance work by choreographer Donald Byrd, performed by Spectrum Dance Company in Seattle, WA (2003). – Improvizions, with choreographer Roxane Butterfly (2005). – 51st Dream State, multimedia project by Sekou Sundiata (2006 international tour).

In 2003 Haynes composed the score for Flag Wars, a film funded by PBS. And during 2004-2005, he composed and produced the original soundtrack for the film The Promise by Maria Norman.

Graham Haynes has received the following grants: – National Endowment for the Arts Study Fellowship (1979). – Meet the Composer Grant to to compose and perform original music with No Image group at Jam88 (1988). – Meet the Composer Grant to to compose and perform original music with No Image group at Morningside Park, NYC (1989). – Meet the Composer Grant to compose music for Afrofuturistic (2001).
Haynes has been twice nominated for the prestigious Alpert Award for the Arts (in 2000 and 2003).

Graham Haynes has recorded eight critically acclaimed CDs as a leader and has worked with Steve Coleman, Roy Haynes, Ed Blackwell, Abbey Lincoln, Pharoah Sanders, Vernon Reid, Cassandra Wilson, Butch Morris, David Murray, Karl Berger, Brice Wassy, Cheick Tidiane Seck, George Russell, George Adams, Jaki Byard, Bill Laswell, Uri Caine, Sting, Rodney Kendrick, Sekou Sundiata, Tracie Morris, Talvin Singh, Marque Gilmore, DJ Logic, DJ Spooky, Will Calhoun, Don Byron, Greg Osby, Geri Allen and many more top musicians.

Throughout his musical career, Graham Haynes has brought together different musical traditions from African, Asian, and Arabic countries. He has lectured at New York University on the subject of Music and Trance and is a perennial guest at the Gnawa Trance Music Festival in Morocco. Graham Haynes tours annually in Europe, Asia and Africa and has appeared several times on national TV. He is in high professional demand as musical director and composer by film, theater, dance, performance and multimedia artists.