June 21--Fareed Haque's latest album boldly declares "wE r FrOm ThE fUtUrE."
The renowned guitar virtuoso is certainly embracing the cutting edge, returning to Norman's Jazz in June festival this weekend with a new band, new instrument and new music.
Voted 2009's Best World Guitarist by Guitar Player Magazine, Haque and his 2-year-old band MathGames! will headline "Jazz Under the Stars" Friday night at Brookhaven Village. The acclaimed player and professor "recently returned from interstellar pan dimensional time travel" to bring his new project's "jazztronica" sound to Earth, according to his website.
"I think the futuristic concept is just in the idea that these things can go together. And if there is a spirit in the universe that exists to bring it all together, she probably has a great sense of humor," Haque said by phone Monday from his home near Chicago, where he was about to go into the studio and finish recording the next MathGames! album.
"You know, I'm a classical guitarist with these degrees and a professorship at a university. And the other teachers they just look at me like I've got six heads when I come onstage in a cheap plastic jumpsuit."
Haque, 50, began experimenting with "jazztronica" and formed MathGames! shortly after he was introduced to the Moog Guitar, which the company best known for its synthesizers debuted in 2008. Developed by Paul Vo, the unique electric guitar lets players control the energy level in the strings.
"Because it's driven by magnets, you can hold a note indefinitely. So I can hold one note with one finger and play other notes with the other fingers. ... I can do that on the Moog Guitar, especially because I have classical and jazz guitar techniques in my background," he said.
"In addition to that, the strings, if I play a chord, will just hold and because of the nature of the overtone series, they'll kind of morph over time. So when you're playing the instrument, it does kind of do its own thing. And that gives kind of a surreal aspect, a spontaneous quality to the sound."
While electronic music often is preprogrammed in nature, the Moog Guitar creates a spontaneity that appeals to his jazz background.
"Stuff kind of happens when you're playing that's different, and that's real cool and exciting to listen to. So it has an organic nature to it, but it is very electronic and modern in its sound. You create electronic music but in sort of an organic way, which relates well to jazz," said Haque, who was born to a Pakistani father and Chilean mother and whose extensive childhood travels influenced his music.
"A lot of electronic music is the opposite of spontaneous. ... Unlike digital technology, which is very linear, this is very geometric in its proportion. Things happen that are always sort of in relation to what the string is doing, so the sounds that come out of the guitar have an organic nature."
"The truth math" found in music and nature is the kind MathGames! enjoys playing with, he said.
"The true math is much, much more deep and profound and sexy and fun and crazy. You know, the figure of a woman is a mathematical formula, and when it's right, it drives the world insane. When you start playing with math in music, you start finding all kinds of proportions that line up."
Haque first played Jazz in June with Cuban jazz master Paquito D'Rivera and later with his jam supergroup Garaj Mahal. Along with performing Friday night, the guitarist will teach a Saturday clinic on "The Math of Moog and 21st Century Guitar."
"It's very well-produced ... and there's so much enthusiasm for new music and old music," he said of Jazz in June, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary. "I feel like it's a real healthy festival and pretty progressive in a lot of ways."
Since he considers himself pretty progressive, too, MathGames! features a visualist who plays with the band.
"I think we live in an age where the audio/visual experience is more integrated than it was even a few years ago ... so we're kind of embracing that and trying to take it somewhere new," he said, adding that's part of the reason for the plastic jumpsuits.
"The objective is that when the films are projected that we become part of the film," he said. "Well, and it's mostly just ... extra-terrestrial sanitation. You know, we try to keep ourselves as pure as possible."
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