KJAZZ Radio UK welcomes Hackdaddy aka Mike Hackbert whose music fuses a Latin feel into his trumpet compositions. Mike has been an active musician since the early 70’s, when he began playing brass instruments (trombone, cornet and trumpet). Settling on the trumpet as a primary instrument, Mike was involved with a number of bands and ensembles in high school (Culver Military Academy) and college (Wittenberg University). Mike’s composing and arranging skills were honed while working on a double major in music and business at Wittenberg, and are still in use today.

In the 80’s and 90’s Mike was based in Champaign-Urbana Illinois and could be seen in a number of groups around the area in addition to work as a soloist, in the theatre pits and in local recording studios. The main focus at this time was the group Champaign Brass, a brass quintet founded by Mike in 1986 that is still active today (the rights to Champaign Brass were sold in 2000 when Mike left central Illinois). Mike wrote a considerable number of arrangements for the group in a wide variety of styles to support Champaign Brass’ reputation as the premier Brass Quintet in central Illinois. Recently, Mike has been playing with the Lakes Area Swing Band and Orquesta Veneno.

Mike’s main influences are jazz and progressive rock, with some baroque, classic and new age thrown in as well. He has been accused of never finding an added-note chord he didn’t like, and is fond of complex ryhthms and time signatures. With Hackdaddy, these creative projects (some are years old, some are months old, some are ony weeks old) from Mike are finding a wider audience for listening and enjoyment.

Some Q&A

Why this name?

Suggestion by a friend (although he didin’t know it at the time!)

Do you play live?

On trumpet, I have played in countless venues from living rooms to stadiums with a variety of groups over the years. The projects on this site have all been realized in the studio.

How, do you think, does the internet (or mp3) change the music industry?

It’s a bit of an equalizer; it gives us “little guys” a chance to get our music out in the world to be heard by much larger audiences than were possible in the past.

Would you sign a record contract with a major label?

Certainly, if the terms were acceptable.

Your influences?

Not in any particular order: Don Ellis, Stan Kenton, Ian Polster, Phil Driscoll, Koinonia, Frank Zappa, Chip Davis, Dave Brubeck, Paul Desmond, David Arkenstone, Chicago, BST, EWF, Les Hooper, John Harmon, JS Bach, ELP, PFM, Yes, Oregon, Paul Winter, Particle, Trey Anastasio

Liner Notes From The Reflections CD

“Liner Notes” – Madre y Padre

This project started out simply called “Samba”. Our teenage daughter had taken to calling her parents “Madre” and “Padre” when she wanted to get our attention (or simply wanted something), so I found inspiration from there to title this latin number “Madre y Padre”. It was originally a total MIDI track with flute, sax and piano features, but a recent remixing replaced the “synthed” sax with “real” trumpet.

“Liner Notes” – Reflections

“Reflections” is the granddaddy of all of the Hackdaddy projects. The first version of this track was written nearly 30 years ago for trumpet and piano, and was performed for a student recital at Wittenberg University. This was somewhat progressive at the time as the vast majority of student recital pieces were from “standard” repertoire that typically was not jazzy and did not contain improvisation. I certainly admit to some inspiration from Chuck Mangione (among others) on this track, with his “Bellavia” probably being the biggest influence. Reflections resurfaced in the 90’s as a brass quintet piece for Champaign Brass, taking on the form of a trumpet feature with brass quartet accompaniment. It began morphing into the present version a few years ago, and for awhile was a (synthed) trumpet and clarinet duet with piano and string features. The current published version is an acoustic trumpet duet, and also has an expanded strings presence throughout the track.

“Liner Notes” – Sugarloaf Parkway

Sugarloaf Parkway is another one of those projects that began it’s life a long time ago and has been simmering at various temperatures ever since. The primary organ theme was “born” around 1980 and is actually based in part on an idea from a friend in college, so if this song ever becomes popular I will need to track him down and strike a deal. :) The second theme is also from around the same time, but was part of a different track for a long time before it found a home here. The bridge material with the synth feature actually came along only a few years ago, and had also started out in something else until the “aha” came along to put it here. Finally, sensing that the track needed a little something else (like finding that one extra seasoning that makes the soup special), the organ solo was realized just a few weeks ago. The name “Sugarloaf Parkway” comes from a road by that name in metro NE Atlanta Ga. It’s a newer road that sort of “cuts across the grain” of the existing roads to provide a quick and easy way to get from here to there in that part of town. The drive and energy of this track seems to reflect that same “cut across the grain” feel; thus the name.

“Liner Notes” – Para Siempre

Para Siempre is a smooth jazz instrumental, a trumpet feature stylistically similar to Reflections. This one percolated on the piano for quite awhile, and when I finally got around to laying out tracks for it a few winters ago, the “tongue-in-cheek” working title was New Years Eve. At any rate, it felt like it was taking forever to get this one done, so Para Siempre seemed like a good choice for the final title.

“Liner Notes” – Noche Caliente

It’s funny how sometimes a concept ends up very different from when it started. The basic melody and chord progression for this track has been around for a number of years, and was a medium-slow, piano-centric ballad mostly known as “Major 7th thing” (or maybe it was “The Other Major 7th thing, or “Other Other Major 7th thing, you get the picture).

I was planning on working it up as a full-bodied Hackdaddy track in that fashion, but hadn’t really started anything. About a year ago, good friend John “booger” MacDonald sent me an uptempo rumba drum track, knowing my fondness for latin beats. I spent a few months thinking about how to best use his track, and the light bulb went off – combine “Major 7th thing” with the “booger rumba”!

The working title became “Latin Thing” and developed into a full Hackdaddy manifesto, with background horns, trumpet and organ features and added percussion. In spite of snow on the ground and frigid temps outside, there were some hot nights in the studio, which led to the track title, “Noche Caliente”.

“Liner Notes” – Eau de Joy

“Eau de Joy” was finished just recently in November 2010. Many people will recognize the play on words of the title, a reference to a hymn tune by Beethoven that he used famously in his 9th symphony, and an indication of the source material for this track. In fact, the beginning is a very standard treatment of the hymn melody and shows off Hackdaddy on piccolo trumpet in an almost Baroque style. Very quickly, though, the track reinvents itself as an uptempo, odd meter, progressive rock variation driven by the Hackdaddy trumpet. I guarantee that you have not heard Beethoven done like this before!

“Liner Notes” – J D

J D is – you guessed it! – something that got started a long time ago and got finished much later. This one started out in the practice rooms at Wittenberg, and a very good friend of mine, J. D. liked it alot from the start, hence the name of the song. It was always a juxtaposition of latin and swing, but originally the swing part was a different theme.

The first version of J D actually was finished in the early 90’s, but fell victim to a hard drive crash. It took awhile to re-create these tracks, but I think it helped to progress them further than they might have otherwise.

So, the latin themes in J D remained pretty much intact and the swing sections were similar to the original, but the piano solo and the marimba solo were recreated later.

The latest version adds the Hackdaddy trumpet as the primary melody instrument, with a 2nd trumpet filling out the track in a few places. The piano solo has been chopped in half to make room for a trumpet solo. The result is a track that is quite different than the previous versions, with a much fuller and complete sound.

“Liner Notes” – Seventeen for Jean

Seventeen for Jean, more than anything else I’ve written, is based on a single artist, actually on a single tune. Don Ellis did a tune called Bulgarian Bulge, an eastern-European sounding thing in a meter of 33/16 (yes, 33/16, that’s not a typo). Being a huge fan of odd/complex meters, I wanted to write something similar, but not wanting to be a copy cat, mine is only in 17/8. I suppose I could have written it in 34/16, but then it might look like I was trying to one-up Mr. Ellis by a sixteenth note, and that was not my intention. The resultant meter is also the influence for the name of the piece.

I did keep the eastern-European influences by using prominent clarinet and violin, although the beds for the solos are decidedly more western-jazzy, in a Hank Levy sort of way. This is yet another one of my projects that started more than a few years ago, but got finished recently.

“Liner Notes” – 7-11

7-11 is the first of what I would call a concept project; that is, creating a project based on a particular idea or “rule”. In the case of 7-11, the “rule” is that every measure is either 7 beats or 11 beats. Sometimes it’s 7/4 or 11/4, and sometimes it’s 7/8 or 11/8, but it’s always either 7 or 11. This concept, as you might imagine, is deliciously ripe with the rhythmic interplay often found in a Hackdaddy project. 7-11 turns out to be a bass feature, with solo bass bookending the track, as well as being a prominent driver throughout the track. There’s also some synth features to go with brass punches and ethereal strings. 7-11 is more or less an arch structure as far as material; sometimes slow, sometimes fast, but never half-fast (ba-dump-bump). Also, I want to be crystal clear that this track has nothing whatsoever to do with the convenience store chain of the same name; it’s just a coincidence.

Hackdaddy Sampler

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Hackdaddy | Reflections