Victor Haskins is a visionary, world-class trumpet and electronic wind instrument (EWI) player, improviser, composer/arranger, bandleader, and educator. As an artist, Victor seeks to be an advocate for, and a practitioner of, passionate and creative thought, activity, and existence, especially through (but certainly not limited to) situations involving, or based upon, the art of improvisation in its many forms.
Victor brings a one-of-a-kind, unique spirit and perspective to all that he does in life. This worldly approach to life is a result of growing up in a variety of diverse settings in Asia and Africa as a young boy, and traveling extensively (which continues to the present day). Through music, Victor is able to synthesize his thoughts and experiences into audible emotions and sonic stories to connect with audiences. His compositions and improvisations never cease to elude the expectations of listeners, thus providing a constant stream of interest and excitement--all possible because of a foundation of meticulous, originally-conceived logic, and an open mind. The only predictable aspect of Victor's music is the clear message forged into the hearts and minds of listeners.
Some notable highlights from Mr. Haskins’ career thus far include the creation of his own improvisational concept--Melodic Improvisation--as well as an independently conceived musical genre that is based on that concept, called ImproviStory. He released his debut album of all original compositions-- "The Truth"--on 32 Bar Records in March of 2013. In 2012, Haskins was invited as a special guest teacher and performer at the inaugural Izmir International Jazz Camp in Izmir, Turkey. He has been the Director of the Jazz Outreach program for the Kennedy Center of the Performing Arts National Symphony Orchestra Education Department since its inception in 2014. Victor is currently (2016) the Adjunct Professor of Jazz Trumpet at the College of William & Mary. Haskins has also been featured at the Richmond Jazz Festival (2013-2015), Richmond’s 2nd Street Festival (2011, 2016), the Elkhart Jazz Festival (2014), the Apex Jazz Festival (2014), and the Festival of New Trumpet Music (2014). In addition, some of Victor's activities are supported by grants from the National Endowment of the Arts, and the Virginia Commission for the Arts.
A partial list of artists with whom Victor has either recorded and/or performed includes Christina Perri, Clarence Penn (Michael Brecker), Craig Handy (Herbie Hancock), Delfeayo Marsalis, Dena DeRose, Drew Gress (Ravi Coltrane), Howard Curtis, Jason Moran and the Bandwagon, Jason Mraz, Julius Mckee (Dirty Dozen Brass Band), k.d. lang, Keb Mo’, Larry Willis, Lonnie Liston-Smith, Marc Cary (Roy Hargrove), Mike Smith (Frank Sinatra), Nasheet Waits, Nat Reeves (Kenny Garrett), Phil Wiggins, Plunky Branch, René Marie, Robbin Thompson, Roger Lewis (Dirty Dozen Brass Band), Steve Bassett, Tarus Mateen, the Temptations, Tia Fuller, Tommy Campbell (Sonny Rollins).
In addition to being a consummate performer, Victor is an innovator— specifically in the area of improvisation. He is the originator of ImproviStory, a genre/concept of music where storytelling drives the creation of improvised music, all derived from audience suggestion and interaction. Because of the nature of its truly universal appeal to the human experience and imagination, ImproviStory is more than a medium for entertaining an audience—it is equally suited to educate. This performance medium heavily utilizes Victor’s brainchild concept called “Melodic Improvisation". In practicing Melodic Improvisation, the melody of a piece of music is used as the basis for improvisation, and when this concept is executed at a high level, very unique, innovative, and accessible performances are rendered—especially in a solo setting.
Two other current performance-based projects that are outlets of Victor’s inventive energies are Victor Haskins’ Skein and Moving Sound Pictures.
Victor Haskins’ Skein is a band that combines enigmatic improvisational prowess with compositions handcrafted by Victor for the specific personalities of the group. EWI/cornet, bass, and drums engage in powerful musical interplay which defies conventional logic in a very cohesive and moving manner, successfully exhibiting both definitions of a “skein"—the concept behind the ensemble’s inner workings.
Moving Sound Pictures is a one-man-band project where Victor Haskins creates live-produced, extemporaneous music. Moving Sound Pictures utilizes EWI, synths, live sampling, cornet, voice, and virtuosic improvisation to transcend genre in order to present a very unique and wondrous experience of live orchestration and music production in real-time, seamlessly crafting interactive parts as though a full, shifting cast of live musicians were spontaneously composing together in real-time. This project is the evolution of Victor’s ImproviStory concept.
As an educator, Victor stays very active and engaged on various levels. In 2015, Victor was the lead teacher for an ImproviStory class for the LiveArt outreach program administered by the School of the Performing Arts in the Richmond Community (SPARC). In his capacity as Director of the Kennedy Center’s Jazz Outreach program, Victor leads his ensemble in exposing elementary schools in the Washington Metropolitan Area to jazz music through an interactive performance/demonstration. Independent of these organizations, Victor has given presentations on topics ranging from ImproviStory, to jazz, to improvisation, to musicianship in an ensemble, at a variety of venues/institutions. A partial list includes the University of Richmond, the Jazz Education Network Conference (2015), the Royal Academy of Music, Virginia Commonwealth University, TEDxLizardCreek (2014), TEDxVCU (2014), the Collegiate School, Mountain View High School, George Washington Middle School, and J.E.B. Stuart Elementary School.
Victor holds a Jazz Studies/Performance degree from Virginia Commonwealth University where he completed the 4-year music program in only 3 years (the first and only person to ever accomplish this feat).
Victor is proud to be sponsored by Eclipse Trumpets, and Denis Wick mouthpieces. As a Denis Wick Artist, Victor plays exclusively on Denis Wick trumpet, cornet, and flugelhorn mouthpieces. Victor also plays a handcrafted, custom cornet from Eclipse Trumpets.