You’ve heard the saying “Those who can, do, those who can’t, teach”.
That doesn’t seem to be the case when it comes to saxophonist Paul Haar. He
can, he does, and he teaches it.
I was at a wedding at Joslyn a few years back, and there was a jazz
quartet playing. I recognized players in the group except the tenor
player, who was just smoking through every tune. Now, I catch random
vids of Haar here and there – when they come through my Facebook newsfeed, and his sound on the tenor is very warm, and he isn’t running through changes, but making plenty of every line.
Hailing from Fremont, now in Lincoln, the Director of Jazz Studies at
the University of Nebraska-Lincoln might be a solid reason for any
aspiring jazzer to hang a hat in Lincoln, NE. Actually, Lincoln is home to
a number of terrific players, including the great bassist, Andy Hall, the wonderful pianist, Tom Larson, composer/guitarist, Peter Bouffard, and so many others.
Haar has an impressive list of achievements. He has presented clinics and master classes, including The Shanghai Conservatory, & The Carlos Gomes Music Conservatory (Brazil). He has been featured at The International Association for Jazz Education Conferences, The Midwest International Band and Orchestra Clinic, Tennessee Music Educators Association, IAJE Teacher’s Training Institute, Arizona Music Educators Association, Nebraska Music Educators Association, The Tennessee Music Educator’s Association, The Jazz Education Network International Conference, and numerous regional and national conventions of the North American Saxophone alliance. In other words, he’s out there, and he’s working.
A family-man, and outspoken on social-media, Haar received the B.M. and M.M from The University of Kansas, and received a D.M.A. in Saxophone Performance with an emphasis in Jazz Studies from University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Haar is a clinician/artist for Gotsu Mouthpieces, P. Mauriat Saxophones and is a D’Addario Performing Artist.
As sweet as all of the above is, it would mean little if the man’s playing lacked heart, which it does not.
I asked FIVE QUESTIONS of Dr. Haar, and he was kind to oblige.
1) How did you get so good at jazz?
PH – I’ve always had a good ear. When I was a kid I was better at hearing something and copying it on my instrument than I was actually reading music. It wasn’t until I was in ninth grade that I discovered I couldn’t really read music very well and it was something I had to work on. I’ve always been able to hear really well and I have what I call B-flat hearing. Meaning as mostly a tenor player in the jazz venue I hear well in B-flat so I hear something and it just translates to my fingers. I also love to explore. I don’t put limitations on trying things and seeing what sounds they make. When I was a kid I was a voracious listener of recordings. And all styles of music intrigued me. I’ve always been good at listening to music. For example when I was a kid I could listen to the Beatles, or Van Halen, or Charlie Parker, or Beethoven, and hear not only the instruments as a whole but each one of them simultaneously while I was listening to the piece.
2) Many people are afraid to let their real opinions out on the web, but not you. Why?
PH – I have spent a lot of my life trying to please other people and be somebody that I’m not. We are only on this earth a certain amount of time and if we don’t tell the truth and we don’t act as we are we’re doing a disservice to the creator. Plus, I don’t expect people to agree with me that’s what makes where we live and what we do unique we can speak our opinions and people can voice opposite opinions and I can respect people for doing so. I think one of the problems we have in this country right now as that we don’t speak our minds when things bother us.
3) Do you take your role as an example to young players seriously?
PH – It is the most important job next to being a husband and father that I have. My favorite thing to do in this world is to work with the young person and to see them achieve things I didn’t even think was possible and to take that person and show them that nothing is impossible.
4) Can you speak to the virtues of khaki’s and tucked in golf shirts?
PH – No, I can’t. Frankly I was raised to be a little bit more of a natty dresser. If I have to try to find something positive to say about khakis and a golf shirt I guess it looks good at a fast food restaurant.
5) What would you tell the hotshot young player who wants to be a jazz star?
PH – That’s a loaded question. I don’t think anybody who is a “jazz star” ever had intentions of being such. I think my advice to young musicians would be do the music because you love it and try to create the most positive music you can and share it with other people. If you do that to the best of your ability then great things will happen.