Guitarist Dennis Haklar & Percussionist Giovanni Hidalgo released their new album “Transcendance” on August 15, 2020. This collaboration between guitarist Dennis Haklar and Grammy award winning master percussionist Giovanni Hidalgo began as a studio improvisation, and developed into a journey to another world. Appearing on “Transcendance” is the beautiful and mysterious Steffie Moonlady adding her ethereal vocals. Moonlady was instrumental in the overall production of “Transcendance” which offers healing energy to our Planet during this challenging point in time.
“Transcendance” is a journey into inner worlds. It is the process of release through sonic meditation. Travel inward, unafraid, with full belief in yourself, knowing that what others think will not disturb or deter you. Tune into the vibrations of sound and transcend to the “Inner”.
Says Dennis, “Gio and I got together at my studio, ‘Europa’, in Orlando. We recorded a series of improvisations. The sessions were so intense that they lasted for days. I had hours of material to go through and sonically sculpt into what has become ‘Transcendance’. At first it was overwhelming sifting through the best of moments, but that is the beauty of improvisation, you never really know what will happen until you are in the moment. This is a 180 degree spin from trying to create music through online collaboration, or playing to previous recordings, or even to composed music. Improvisation is an art that can take a lifetime, or perhaps several lifetimes to get ‘right’. On the other hand it can happen effortlessly. The key is not to be restricted by expectations of the industry, not to play according to your genre.
Giovanni has a huge fan base in the Latin jazz genre, when he and Dennis did this they agreed to be themselves and not be restricted by anyone or anything. The pieces on “Transcendance” were not composed in the conventional sense of ABACAB form, or any form even remotely related to that. Essentially, the duo strove to create a new genre. The music is hard to classify, they will leave that up to the listeners...
Says Dennis, “Living with the tracks, I studied them and began to extrapolate what were the most powerful moments. I then added my sounds and created the transcendant textures. At the point where it began to really take on a life of its own I decided to bring in Steffie Moonlady to add her vocalizations rounding out the textures with a beautiful female touch. Once she completed her tracks, I presented it to Gio and asked if he was cool with his tracks. He came back to add some fine points, icing on the cake. The mixing took months to complete. On certain pieces, I had over 64 tracks to mix. Moonlady was very instrumental in helping me find the right balances, pans, and textures."
Dennis Haklar first started performing music at Rutgers University. During this time, he joined the Improvising Structures Ensemble lead by minimalist composer Dan Goode. The group also featured jazz saxophonist Eric Kloss. They performed the music of John Cage, Terry Riley and others. After a few years playing with this ensemble he left to work as a session guitarist at Pyramid Recording Studio. He eventually became the chief engineer of the studio and worked with Gloria Gaynor, Kool and The Gang, Whitney Houston and many others. Dennis released his first solo work “Lizard’s Tale” as a composer, arranger, engineer and producer utilizing what he learned over the years. The album featured Larry Coryell, Jon Anderson, Mark Egan and Thierry Arpino. After working with Larry Coryell on “Lizard’s Tale”, Dennis got to know Larry Coryell better and they started working together more and more. They became close friends. Coryell asked Dennis to work on the final Eleventh House album “Seven Secrets”. He composed “Dragon’s Way” with bassist John Lee and played acoustic on the album.
During his career, Giovanni Hidalgo has worked with Bola Abimbola, Sikiru Adepoju, Art Blakey, Muruga Booker, Jack Bruce, Don Byron, Candido Camero, D'Angelo, Paulinho da Costa, Steve Gadd, Sammy Hagar, Kip Hanrahan, Zakir Hussain, Cassius Khan, Airto Moreira, Charlie Palmieri, Tito Puente, Hilton Ruiz, Paul Simon, and Carlos “Patato” Valdes. Hidalgo received a Grammy Award for his contribution to the album “Planet Drum” performed by an ensemble of the same name led by Mickey Hart of The Grateful Dead. He played on another one of Hart's Grammy-winning albums, Global Drum Project and on the album Danzón (Dance On) by Arturo Sandoval which won the 1995 Grammy Award for Best Latin Jazz Performance. In May 2010, Hidalgo was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Music from Berklee College of Music.
“Haklar and Hidalgo seamlessly blend their talents across a sonic landscape that evokes a wide emotional range, at times both energizing and tranquil, resulting in an impressionistic feast for the ears. With its tasteful use of ethereal guitars, globe-trotting percussion parts, and spacey vocal flourishes, ‘Transcendance’ provides a vastly rewarding listening experience.” - Paul Sky
In closing Dennis has this to impart, “It is our hope that our music will give you a sense of inner peace. We are here together on this planet dealing with challenges as they happen. We all have the innate ability to Transcend. Reach inward and outward knowing that we are part of a something greater. Release by taking a moment out of your day through ‘Transcendance’. Love and Light!”