Nathan Haines is an internationally renowned saxophonist, composer, producer, bandleader and vocalist with a body of work in multiple styles stretching back for over two decades.
The eldest son of jazz bassist Kevin Haines, Nathan was born into a very musical home on the North Shore of Auckland in New Zealand. Along with guitarist brother Joel, the pair alongside their father were playing major international Jazz Festivals in New Zealand by the mid 80’s.
Nathan left for studies in New York in 1991 which immersed him in the worlds of jazz, hip-hop and latin musics, all of which were to become a big part in the bands he went on to later form, and influence the records he would make.
In 1993 UK based DJ Gilles Peterson spotted Nathan playing at Auckland legendary Cause Celebre nightclub, and suggested to the then MD of Polygram records NZ that he should be signed – which he duly was. 1994 saw the release of the ground breaking “Shift Left” album by Nathan – his first as a solo artist – which blended live rhythms with analog synthesisers, strings, vocals, and turntable scratching. This album won New Zealand Jazz Record of the Year, and was certified Gold, though the final sales figure was double that. It was also released in the UK on the Verve label in 1995.
However restless with life back in New Zealand, Nathan moved to London in 1995 (his present home) to join up with DJ Roy the Roach, playing live saxophone over Roy’s deep house sets. Nathan also played with Paul ‘Trouble’ Anderson at the legendary Loft sessions in Camden for three years, which put Nathan in touch with many visiting American Dj’s – some of whom years later he would go onto record with.
In 1997 Nathan and drum and bass producer A-Sides (Jason Cambridge) formed the experimental cross-over production duo Sci-clone which turned out jazz inflected dance music for successful independent labels such as Metalheadz and Reinforced – as well as gaining an international reputation for unique, beautifully crafted drum and bass that was musical as well as hard hitting on the dancefloor.
Through the late 90’s Nathan eventually teamed up with West London based producer and DJ Phil Asher and their two albums “Sound Travels” and “Squire for Hire” for dance label Chillifunk established the pair as an internationally recognised force that blended jazz harmony with dance rhythms and a hip-hop sensibility.
Nathan also started regularly gigging with US soul legend Marlena Shaw who sung the title track from “Squire For Hire” – propelling the tune into the record boxes of DJ’s the world over.
Other collaborators on the album included UK soul diva Vanessa Freeman, Damon Albarn in his D-2 Gorrilaz guise, US poet Rich Medina, and the best of the UK’s musicians and singers.
After the success of this album Nathan guested on hundreds of records including Jamiroquai (2005’s Dynamite), 4 Hero, Mark de Clive Lowe, Reel People and with Italian pianist Marco di Marco. He also recorded a jazz album with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra with arrangements by the Grammy Award winning Alan Broadbent, and successfully did a sell-out concert theatre tour in New Zealand which saw tens of thousands experiencing Nathan’s music alongside the magnificent ninety plus Symphony Orchestra conducted by Hamish McKeich.
Nathan also played many of the worlds jazz festivals and clubs including the North Sea Jazz Festival, London’s Jazz Cafe and Ronnie Scotts, and the Tokyo Blue Note.
Long term collaborator and keyboardist/producer Mike Patto teamed up with Nathan in the mid 2000’s and the pair made several records together, culminating in the analog straight to tape album “The Poet’s Embrace” released in New Zealand in 2012, and in the UK on Warner Classics and Jazz in early 2013. Nathan and his band played two sell out nights at Ronnie Scotts in late 2012, which also saw New Zealand pianist Kevin Field join the band – a first for the pair performing together outside New Zealand even though they had shared the stage since the late 1980’s.
“The Poet’s Embrace” saw Nathan return to his jazz roots and has been heralded by critics and musicians internationally as one of Nathan’s finest releases showcasing his unique brand of tenor playing – something which may have been hidden on previous records – but which is very much to the fore on this album.
Mike Patto’s production and recording skills also shine brightly on the release – originally intended for vinyl but available digitally as well – and the record was recorded straight to a late 1950’s two-track Ampex tape machine with no mixing or overdubs. This style of recording is virtually un-heard of in the modern age, and have brought the pair a certain type of notoriety as those in pursuit of “the sound”.
2013 sees Nathan return to New Zealand to make a follow-up album for Warners New Zealand in a similar analog fashion, but with the addition of vocal tracks sung by Nathan.
This will be his ninth solo album and promises to be a career defining release bringing together the many threads of Nathan’s musical life to this point, and will be hotly anticipated by his many international fans and devotees.