Call Answered: Augie Haas: "Have We Met?" + Birdland Concert
Broadway, Aladdin, Radio City Music Hall, Birdland, and Harry Connick Jr. was all I needed to hear to want to do an interview with trumpeter, composer & teacher Augie Haas. I love music. I love musicians. I think musicians have one of the hardest jobs out there. Not only do they have to learn the music and stay in rhythm with everyone else, but they also have to lug those heavy instruments to and from every gig. It must be so exhausting and taxing, but I never once hear a musician complain because they are so happy to be doing what they love.
Augie Haas is definitely one of those people doing what he loves. He has toured with Harry Connick Jr. and played in his talk-show's band. He's performed at Radio City Music Hall, released four albums, a book, and is a regular member of the orchestra in Broadway's Aladdin & in the house band at Birdland.
If that wasn't enough to keep a guy busy, Augie is gearing up to release his fifth album, Have We Met? where, in addition to playing trumpet, he will make his debut as a vocalist. The album is slated to drop in July when Augie will also celebrate this album with a concert Birdland on July 19 at 6pm! Click here for tickets!
1. Who or what inspired you to become a musician? I was in 5th grade, and when they lined up the instruments at school, I knew I really wanted to play! I went home and begged my parents to let me play an instrument, but being the youngest of five children, they figured they'd be wasting their money like they did on my other four siblings. I was pretty relentless in asking, they finally gave in, and I am sure glad they did!
2. What made you want to be a trumpeter over another instrument? My original choice was actually French horn. I will never forget when my parents finally decided to give in. My dad said to me that a name like Augie sounds like a trumpet player's name, not a French horn player. I wanted to play so badly I said works for me!
3. This July you are releasing your fifth album. What can you tell us about it? I can tell you lots! How much time you got? Haha! First and foremost, I am very excited about this album. It is definitely much different than all the others. The album is called Have We Met? and the most obvious difference is this is my debut album as a vocalist. I am singing on eight of the thirteen tracks. The album was largely influenced by Chet Baker and my buddy Till Bronner who is an amazing musician from Germany. My last album was all original music, while this one is all of my favorite standards. The instrumentation is also different from my other albums. It is piano, bass, and me on trumpet/voice. The trio had a lot of fun making the album and we want people to enjoy great music by musicians doing what they love.
4. You will be celebrating the release of this album with a concert at Birdland in NYC. What excites you about this upcoming concert? I am fortunate to play in the house big band for Birdland every Friday but this will be my first show at Birdland as a leader which is very exciting! It is also exciting to put out a new album and get people's reactions!
5. You've had quite a career so far: Broadway, Radio City, touring with Harry Connick Jr./being in his talk-show band. As a boy from Milwaukee, WI, when you think about all you've done thus far, what goes through your mind? Every day, I get to play music and make a living doing it. That is a great day no matter where you are from. A lot of great musicians have come out of Milwaukee, and I am proud to call Milwaukee home. I always say there is something special about the Midwest, but perhaps that is the cheese talking :)
6. So, let's chat Harry Connick Jr. How did you get to work with him? What did you learn from him? What's one story about Harry Connick you haven't told in previous interviews? I first started working with Harry based off a recommendation from a friend of mine. The five years I was with him I learned a lot about music, the business, and the road, so it's hard to just say one thing! Hmmmm, one story I have never told anyone else. I remember it was a very early gig with him and I got two beats ahead of the whole band on a big shout chorus, but there was no turning back so I played it loud and proud . . . I was convinced after that it might have been my last gig but Harry later told me I was so confident he thought the rest of the band might have been off.
7. You are also currently playing in the orchestra of Broadway's Aladdin. What is the best part about this gig? You play the same music night after night after night. How do you keep things fresh? The best part of this gig, and any gig, is the people you work with. I have made friends for life on this gig and am fortunate to make music with them every night. The trumpet has a way of keeping trumpet players very humble . . . it is a hard and physically demanding instrument, one of which that will turn on you if you don't treat it with the upmost respect. I would say the trumpet always keeps it fresh in the good way!
8. If you could go on a magic carpet ride, where would you go and who would you take with you? Haha, I would go over sideways and under. I would take my wife, Ali. She is my travel partner and a pretty good one if I do say so myself! She always picks out the best snacks on our trips and is game for anything!
9. One of your albums is called Doing It Augie Style. What is something you haven't done "Augie Style" that you'd still like to? The one thing I haven't done "Augie Style" that I would still like to is write a cookbook! I love to cook and a cookbook it is definitely a bucket list item!
10. On your album The Llama, you have a song called "I Can't Get Started." How often can't you get started on a song and how do you overcome this? Well, "I Can't Get Started" is a famous standard and I did the Doc Severinsen version. Doc is one of my musical heroes who I have had the pleasure of working with on more than one occasion. I never seem to have trouble starting new projects, I would say my problem is I often try to bite off more than I can chew at one time. However, almost all of my projects seem to get done eventually, but Ali said maybe no new projects until I finish some of my current ones haha! She's a lot smarter than me!
More on Augie:
Augie Haas currently lives in New York City where he is a professional trumpeter, composer, and teacher. As one of the most in demand trumpet players in New York, Augie has worked with artists including: Harry Connick, Jr., The Maria Schneider Orchestra, The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, The Gil Evans Project, Birdland Big Band, various Broadway shows, and The Radio City Orchestra. Augie is currently a regular member of the orchestra for Aladdin on Broadway.
Born and raised in Milwaukee, Augie earned his Bachelor of Music in Jazz Studies at Roosevelt University’s Chicago College of the Performing Arts. After Chicago, he attended The University of Miami’s Frost School of Music Conservatory for a Masters in Studio Music in Jazz, and a Doctorate in Musical Arts.
Augie has released four albums under his co-founded label Playtime Music: The Llama, Doing it Augie Style, Baby Jazz, and Endless, featuring all original compositions. Most recently he published his first book entitled Build Your Range.