A Triad jazz performer and educator is living the dream this week with the release of a new album on the historic Blue Note label. University of North Carolina at Greensboro bassist Steve Haines joins legendary drummer, vibraphonist, and composer Joe Chambers in a wide-ranging collection of styles including swing, Latin, samba, ballads, and rap. The album title is Samba de Maracatu.

Chambers, who's performed and recorded with the likes of saxophonist Wayne Shorter, pianist Herbie Hancock, and vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson, first met Haines fifteen years ago in New York. A few days later they began performing together before Haines eventually returned to UNCG to teach.

Haines spoke with WFDD's David Ford.

Interview Highlights

On working with Joe Chambers:

As a musician, you spend your whole life hoping for a phone call like this, you know. When it comes, it's so special. And then the other thing is after you get that phone call, you get to work. And so, I guess the first thing I did was I did a lot of listening and research and I listened to all of his other records. The preparation was important. And then when you get in there, you're constantly learning things through the way he plays the music. He doesn't say a lot. And I think most of the older generation, they don't say a whole lot. You know, there's not a lot of discussion. It's just sort of — you just listen and you play and you adjust. And then if there's something just dreadfully wrong, he'll speak up.

On improvising and musical boundaries:

We can take Ecaroh for example, from Horace Silver. So, Joe wanted to do that and he wanted to do it in a new way, but he didn't tell me how we wanted to do it in a new way. So, I listened to Horace Silver's Ecaroh again from the original recording. And then I listened to it from his [Joe Chambers'] records. You know, I just wanted to be extremely familiar with Joe and Ecaroh  so that when I went in there and he decided to bend it and put it in a different way, that I would be at least informed as I can because, look, we're improvising in there. And so you need as many boundaries as you can find and you have to get yourself prepared as best you can so that when you do get to the unknown, you have a fighting chance to get through it. I don't know who said it — there was a famous author who said — you know, if you want to learn how to write a poem, then read a thousand poems. So, the least that I can do is just listen to as many different things that are as close to that as I can so that I can be within striking range.

On the importance of jazz mentorship:

Our music has always been one of mentorship. So, Ray Brown, for example, taught my teacher, Skip Beckwith, and then Skip Beckwith taught me. And it's an honor for me to share what Ray taught Skip to my students, and they will then pass that information down. So, it's really like a hand-me-down music. It's an oral and it's a mentorship culture. And so, you know, Mr. Chambers is — I mean, this is a guy who created an entire arm of playing — and, you know, I mean, there's so many musicians that come out of Joe Chambers, so many drummers and so many vibraphonists. It's really just a tremendous honor for me to be working with them.

*Editor's Note: This transcript was lightly edited for clarity.

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