Regarded as an innovator on cornet and flugelhorn, an extraordinary composer, and an emerging force in contemporary electronic music and world music, Graham Haynes has redefined and deconstructed that genre we still call jazz. While his main instrument is the cornet, he is by no means making jazz music these days. Haynes uses technology to create imaginative, subtle sonic environments. Even amidst electronic processing, his horn stands out, providing a level of expression that humanizes and elevates the synthetic sounds.
The son of legendary jazz drummer Roy Haynes, Graham was born in 1960 and raised in Hollis, Queens, where he was surrounded by innovators (his neighbors included Roy Eldridge, Milt Jackson, and Jaki Byard). While studying composition, harmony and theory at Queens College, Graham developed an interest in classical and electronic music (Robert Moog was professor of electronic music at that time). In 1979, he met alto saxophonist Steve Coleman. They formed a band called Five Elements, which launched the M-Base collective, an influential group of New York improvisers. Haynes spent much of the 1980s collaborating with Coleman and Cassandra Wilson. In the late 1980s he formed his own ensemble, Graham Haynes and No Image, and recorded his first album as a leader, What Time it Be?
During the late 1980`s, Haynes immersed himself in a wide range of African, Arabic, and South Asian music which prompted his move to Paris in 1990. There he recorded Nocturne Parisian and The Griots Footsteps, for French PolyGram Records. Haynes spent the next three years studying and performing with masters of African and Asian music, occasionally returning to the U.S. to work with artists such as Ed Blackwell, George Russell, Uri Caine, David Murray and many others. In 1993, Haynes moved back to New York City, where he began investigating sampling and hip hop music. The album Transition came out of this investigation. His next project, Tones for the Twenty-First Century, combined sound effects, textures, drones, and samples, layered over Haynes' electronically manipulated horn.