Primary Instrument: Sax, alto
Hailey Niswanger (pronounced NICE-wonger)--entering her sophomore year at the Berklee College of Music in Boston where she is studying jazz performance on a full scholarship in the fall of 2009--has an impressive list of accomplishments that reach far beyond the borders of her home in Oregon and well beyond her 19 years. Born February 12, 1990 in Houston, Texas, she has already shared the stage with DeeDee Bridgewater, George Duke, George Garzone, Red Holloway, Terell Stafford, Phil Woods, James Moody, Steve Nelson, Christian McBride, McCoy Tyner, Maceo Parker, Wynton Marsalis, Mark Whitfield and other jazz greats and leads her own quartet that has performed at the Portland Jazz Festival, Jimmy Mak’s Jazz Club, Mt. Hood Jazz Festival and other jazz venues around Portland. With the June 2009 release of her recording debut as a leader--the self-produced and self-released CD Confeddie--Hailey is poised to “break out” nationally through U.S. jazz radio promotion and publicity campaigns.
Although she also plays soprano sax, clarinet and flute, Hailey showcases solely her alto sax skills on Confeddie which features a rhythm section composed of fellow Berklee students Michael Palma on piano, Greg Chaplin on bass and Mark Whitfield Jr. on drums. She has delivered an authoritative straight-ahead recording featuring a level of instrumental virtuosity that belies her age on arrangements of modern jazz classics by Thelonious Monk, Herbie Hancock, Joe Henderson, Wayne Shorter, Kenny Dorham and Benny Golson. Hailey also penned the title track whose name is a combination of “confetti,” to convey the festive feeling that permeates the album, and the first name of legendary saxophonist Eddie Harris in whose style it was written.
Hailey hit the road running in May 2009 after completing her first year at Berklee in anticipation of the release of Confeddie. That month she was a featured artist at the Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. (she won the festival’s saxophone competition in 2008) and represented the Berklee College of Music in the Downbeat Invitational at the Tri-C Jazz Festival in Cleveland, Ohio. Highlights of Hailey’s activities in previous years include: touring with the Next Generation Jazz Orchestra which included performances at the North Sea Jazz Festival in The Netherlands and on the main stage of the 51st Monterey Jazz Festival (2008); playing with the Gibson/Baldwin GRAMMY Jazz Ensemble in Hollywood and the Jazz Band of America in Indianapolis (2008 & 2007); performing with the Pacific Crest Jazz Orchestra and Combo at the IAJE conference in New York City and at pre-festival events for the 50th Anniversary Monterey Jazz Festival and attending the Vail Jazz Workshop under the direction of John and Jeff Clayton where she performed on the main stage of the Vail Jazz Festival with Taylor Eigsti who later invited her to appear with him at Jazz Alley in Seattle (2007); and receiving scholarships to attend the Berklee College of Music Summer Jazz Workshop under the direction of Terri Lyne Carrington (2006 & 2007).
A 2008 graduate of West Linn High School near Portland, where she moved with her family in 1992, Hailey played saxophone and clarinet in the school’s jazz and symphonic bands and was also a member of Thara Memory’s elite Pacific Crest Jazz Orchestra and Combo. During the summer of 2009, in addition to performing in the Portland area, Hailey will, as she also did in 2008, be teaching piano to 5-7 year olds and woodwinds to 12-18 year olds at Willowbrook Arts Camp where as an eight-year-old she played her first note on a woodwind (clarinet).