Hailey Niswanger is familiar with the concept of emergence: for the last five years straight, she has been touted as a rising star on alto and soprano saxophone in the DownBeat Critics Poll.
She recently returned to her alma mater, the Berklee College of Music, with a gig at Café 939’s Red Room — with a live stream archived here, courtesy of The Checkout from WBGO.
Niswanger performed material from her new album, Mae.Sun, which was inspired by the teachings of the Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh. The saxophonist, who lives in Brooklyn, says that Hanh's book Peace Is Every Step helped her realize her own voice as an artist.
She is known to play alto and tenor, but her axe of choice these days is the soprano, the only saxophone featured on her new suite-like recording. The album flows in many directions — touching on jazz, rock and even a tinge of Afrobeat, with an occasional waft of her ethereal vocals.