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George Haslam:
Jazz Composer
Saxophonist &

The FreeTime Quartet - with Special Guest -
Stefano Pastor - Violin

George Haslam - Baritone Sax and *Taragoto
Stefano Pastor - Violin
Swetja - Electric, Midi, Pedal Steel Guitar, Fujara Flute and Saw
Jozef Láska - Acoustic and Electric Basses
Petr Zimák - drums

Freetime is an arts movement launched in Prague, 2002. Haslam's Quartet is one element and there is a very active visual arts programme of exhibits across that city.

The musical critics call this "free form jazz". you can enjoy unique "FreeTime Compositions",  played by great musicians like George Haslam.  With George will be his three cohort Musicians from Prague thus forming the FreeTime Quartet.

Free form is spontaneous composition on solo instruments such as the saxophone and was explored by such as John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins - both the instrumentalist and their art of extended improvisation is a delight. It becomes an exhilarating exercise in concentration to follow the artist's imagination as it whirls through the instrument, plumbing its depths, bending its outer limits, flying through blinding glissandos and pulling out quotes to standards, children's nursery rhymes and popular tunes like rabbits out of hats.
Like Coltrane and Rollins - FreeTime plays its way through two worlds: the old school of allegiance to melody and song structure, and the postmodern realm of free-form invention. George Haslam weighs more heavily on the latter, as the formal melodic discipline  is deconstructed and re-worked by the improviser in a process that is fascinating and inspiring to behold. A sound as capable of communicating tenderness in addition to truculence.
"Now is the time to blossom and be the music that transcends everything and includes everything. Jazz is like nature. Every day a different sky, a different cloud, a different rainbow: this is something that jazz represents. I'm trying to exemplify everything in jazz. It's something that takes in the bigger picture." Sonny Rollins

George Haslam - Born Preston, Lancashire, 22 February 1939, baritone saxophone and tarogato.
George is largely self-taught - his tuition involved 'a few private lessons and a lot of practice' - and throughout the 1950s and '60s he undertook extensive work with dance bands and jazz groups before moving into free jazz and improvisation in the 1970s. Early influences were Lester Young and Gerry Mulligan.
In the early 1980s he worked extensively in eastern Europe, particularly in Hungary, as a soloist and with his group The Siger Band: Paul Rutherford, Pete McPhail, Tony Moore and Nigel Morris. In 1986 he played in Mexico as well as leading the first British jazz group to play in Cuba and in 1990 was also the first British jazz musician to play in Argentina. Since then he has returned regularly to play in Cuba and Argentina and has begun to record with Argentinean musicians.

Haslam has worked with a range of artists from Nat Gonella to Arturo Sandoval, Derek Bailey to Victor Sylvester, Mal Waldron, Steve Lacy, Charlie Mariano, Stan Tracey, Valery Ponomarev, Joachim Kuhn. He has deliberately taken this eclectic approach to music, partly to avoid being pigeon-holed, but largely because it reflects his very diverse interests and love of different music. In 1989 he formed SLAM Productions originally to release his own music but now encompassing many other free jazz and improvising musicians: Elton Dean, Howard Riley, Paul Rutherford, Lol Coxhill, Paul Dunmall, Steve Lacy, Mal Waldron, all reflecting Haslam's wide range of interests and playing situations.

George Haslam's present work is in solo improvisation and also with Mal Waldron, Level Two, as a member of the British Saxophone Quartet (with Lol Coxhill, Elton Dean and Simon Picard) thus providing opportunities across a wide spectrum of jazz and improvisation. He also continues to tour widely, particularly in South America, East Europe (Hong Kong in January 1998) and more recently in Russia, Ukraine and Finland.  Also worked with Borah Bergman, Charlie Mariano, Bobby Carcasses, Evan Parker, Paul Rutherford etc.

Voted 19th All Time World Greatest Baritone Saxophonist in Japanese the Encyclopaedia of Jazz.  Founded SLAM CD label 1989

Stefano Pastor from Genoa - has graduated in violin with full marks in Jazz. He followed his studies with  Claudio Marzorati, Carlo Pozzi, Piero Farulli, Lorenzo Lugli, Piero Leveratto and attends Master Classes with Enrico Rava and Dave Liebman.  In 1982 he won the contest "Laboratorio Lirico Sperimentale" and for two years he performs with "Orchestra of Teatro di Alessandria". Since then he played in many Orchestras such as the “Angelicum Symphony Orchestra” in Milano sharing the stage with important Soloists and Directors such as Josè Carreras, Cecilia Gasdia, Simone Alaimo, Paul Badura- Skoda, Lev Markiz, Edardo Muller, Massimo Biscardi, Daniele Gatti, Pietro Borgonovo.  He takes part in Studio recordings with Massimo De Bernard, Mauro Ceccanti, the art-rock group Picchio dal Pozzo and the popular singer-song- writer Paolo Conte. For the past 6 years he occupied first violin of the string quartet "Leon Battista Alberti", recording often for Italian National television (RAI) and performing live regularly.
At the present he devotes himself entirely to jazz music performing live with a lot of important jazz musicians like Borah Bergman, Harry Beckett, George Haslam, Paul Hession, Piero Leveratto, Maurizio Giammarco, Cristopher Culpo, Giancarlo Schiaffini, Giorgio Dini, Giampaolo Casati, Claudio Capurro, Mauro Negri, Mario Raja, Bruno Tommaso, Luciano Milanese, Nando De Luca e Alberto Tacchini.  In 2004 he issued a CD as leader of  “Una Notte in Italia” for the Italian label Videoradio obtaining the accolades of Italian and European critics. In the same year was assistant to orchestra director Mario Raja at the Clinic of Siena Jazz School.  During 2005 he won 2nd prize at the prestigious “Rassegna Giovani Musicisti” in Cervo (Italy) and was finalist in “International Arranging and Composition Competition for Jazz Orchestra” with a study on Wayne Shorter with soloist Claudio Fasoli.  In 2006 he issues a second CD named Transmutations, by the English label SLAM Productions. The Review of musical research called “Suono Sonda” publishes a work written by Stefano Pastor and the poetess Erika Dagnino entitled “Cicli”. This work  later became a four movement suite and is then issued in May 2007 with the title “Cycles” by SLAM.  The CD's
"Holywell Session - Live in Oxford" and "Helios Suite" both issued by SLAM in 2007 came out from a period of concert and recording dates in England  during 2006.  The “Jazz Lighthouse” association, in collaboration with the Genoa Commune, awarded to Pastor a special prize “for the research of new expressive ways in jazz music”.
In 2007  releases “Uncrying Sky” for Silta Records with Schiaffini, Dini and Rotella, a project based on a music composition and poem by Pastor himself. He gives a series of Duo Concerts documented by RAI - Radio tre, with the pianist Borah Bergmen from NYC and  they recorded a CD that will be issued in 2008.  He was placed seventh, as new best talent, at the Italian critic's referendum "Top Jazz" in 2007. He has also devoted himself to teaching for many years.

FreeTime Quartet consisting of George Haslam on baritone sax and tarogato, plus Czechs Jozef Láska on bass guitar and string bass, drummer Petr Zimák and the single-named Swetja on midi guitar, steel guitar and – most distinctively – singing saw and fujara, a flageolet style, deep-bass Slovakian shepherd’s flute,

Swetja  - the Guitarist is a composer, arranger, multi-instrumentalist and multimedia specialist. His civil name is Jaroslav Svitek, and he was born in Banska Bystrica, Slovakia, in 1969. He is a graduate of the Faculty of Electrotechnics of the Technical University in Brno and has been working in Prague since 1996.
Besides his studio work and active interaction with a number of Czech and Slovak musicians, bands, orchestras, theatre groups and visual artists of diverse backgrounds; Swetja plays regularly with the famous American blues player King George, who was a close friend of Jimi Hendrix

Swetja's musical hallmark has been influenced by the genre of world music. During his concerts, he switches between several instruments, which include the Fujara, (overtone flute, specific to Slovakia) and the Saw. Nevertheless, his music tends to be very modern. It is based on the fusion of acoustic instruments and electronica, enhanced by original ideas of his own.
Swetjas own words -
What can I say about jazz? It's another member of the big family of music styles, which I like to play. Also I prefer complete freedom in music expression, that means maximum improvisation from the musicians - you will hear some never repeatable "FreeTime compositions", played by (in my opinion) great musicians like George Haslam...

Fujara is a Slovak traditional wood instrument (looking like a "big pipe"), with a characteristic, unique sound.
Fujara is over five feet (1.7m) long, deep-bass folk flute of Slovak shepherds used to call in their Sheep.
Cherished in the seclusion of slovakian mountains, Fujara preserved over centuries and as simple as it was from the beginning. 
Fujara flute uniquely combines a natural, easy to learn playing technique and an amazing voice!

Jozef Laska - Bass Guitar and Double Bass originating from Zilina, Slovakia.
Often invited to perform with  various Prague and Foreign Bands with experimental and alternative directions in Music – in recent years played with the King George Bluesology, FreeTime Quartet etc – lives in Prague where he has become one of the most sought after Bassists for the jazz club scene.
    Petr Zimak from Prague on Drums

UK  Tour March 09

Promotional Information for
Jazz Festivals, Jazz Clubs, Music Clubs & Theatres

Czech This Out! -

The FreeTime Quartet - available in March/April 2009

George Haslam Baritone Sax and *Taragoto
Swetja - Electric, Midi, Pedal Steel Guitars, Fujara and Saw
Josef Láska - Acoustic and Electric Basses
Petr Zimák - drums

Next March/April George will arrange a visit to the UK by jazz musician collaborators from Prague and Genoa - primarily to play at Abingdon Arts and other Jazz or Music Festivals and is now looking for other Venue opportunities to give these excellent Musicians a wider platform to display their prodigious talents.

The music is free swinging jazz played over strong rhythmic grooves and got airplay on BBC Radio 3 'Jazz on 3' and 'Night Waves'.

The FreeTime Quartet will also be joined by a great electric violinist from Genoa - Stefano Pastor.

FreeTime 2002*2003*2004

George Haslam Blogspot

Taragato- The tárogató is a single-reed, conical-bore woodwind, created in Hungary around the turn of the century shortly after the invention of the saxophone. The tárogató is sometimes called the national instrument of Hungary (on the other hand, so is the cimbalom). The mouthpiece and reed are roughly similar to those on a clarinet, but although newer tárogató mouthpieces take a clarinet reed, the actual mouthpieces are not interchangeable. The fingering is also roughly similar to an Albert-system clarinet, but because of the conical bore, the tárogató breaks into the upper register an octave higher like a saxophone, rather than the musical twelfth of the clarinet. Thus the thumb hole and two upper keys used to bridge the lower part of the upper register are omitted. The tárogató also has an extra key down on the bell, operated by the right thumb.

George Haslam Playing the Taragato


If you are interested as a promoter we will gladly send you promo materials and a CD.

For Booking Enquiries for the FreeTime
Quartet for Jazz Festivals, Theatre or Club Events, Corporate Events and Jazz Workshops
E-mail or Phone 01844 353117

Freetime Quartet will be touring the UK during these dates in 2009:
March -

Jazz Cafe POSK Hammersmith - Sat 28th March 09 at 8.30pm

Abingdon Arts Festival ~ 2-14 March 09
Sunday 29 March at Royal British Legion - Abingdon
Friday 3 April at The Stocks Bar - Abingdon.

Tuesday 31 March The Bullingdon in Oxford.
Saturday 4 April There is a dance in The Guildhall,  Abingdon, and George Haslam swing band (SWINGTIME) will play and Stefano is special guest. £10

The gigs are presented as:


International Jazz with FreeTime Quartet from Prague - Swetja (guitar synth, fujara, saw), Jozef Laska (bass), Petr Zimak (drums) George Haslam (baritone sax, tarogato) and special guest violinist Stefano Pastor from Genoa.

BBC Radio recording session is scheduled for the FreeTime Quartet + 1. This is to be broadcast on Monday 20 April 09 at 11.15pm Jazz on Radio 3.

Technical Requirements for Performance Venues - 
Full Drum Kit
Electric Bass Amplifier
PA for the Quartet with 3 Quality Mics and Sound Engineer Supervision.


George Haslam formed his FreeTime Quartet in 2002 with the assistance of a Czech National Radio and a noted jazz club owner.  He has now toured regularly across the Czech Republic and occasionally beyond. Milos Latislav, the Radio man, named the band to reflect its open and freely based improvisation over positive rhythms and this recording is a document of the band - Haslam on baritone sax and tarogato, Swetja on guitars, Fujara (a European overtone flute) and Petr Zimak on drums - playing live with guest stars from a number of countries.
Alternative Prelude is the album's opener and sets the tone for what is to come. Over a sort of drone, Haslam floats spaciously and soulfully on tarogato, a Hungarian single-reed instrument. Haslam suggests the freedom of the avant garde jazzers but often moves into the realm of folk-based music including the blues.  Many of the tunes are short, simply displaying a flash of a mood, but the spirit of this truly open- hearted musician shines through.

Alternative Prelude; Hupky Dupky; First Bass; Muffs; Wails from the Crypt; Sagem Blues; Marks Mode; Second Bass; Trust Nature; Relaxing in Pardubice; Sweets; Farewell Prague.

Personnel: George Haslam: baritone sax, tarogato; Swetja: guitars, fujara, saw; Jozef Laska: contrabass; Petr Zimak: drums.
Guests Include Steve Waterman - Trumpet, Mark Aanderud - Piano

“Relaxing in Pardubice”, with drummer Zimák holding down the beat, as Láska’s ringing bass guitar accents back up Swetja’s coarse fujara vibrations. With Zimák’s shuffle preventing the tune from a becoming a Slovak folk dance, the fujara tones mix it up with vibrated taragoto output, finally harmonizing in triple counterpoint as Haslam blows both his horns in tandem.

Swetja’s third implement is given its showcase on the descriptive “Wails from the Crypt”, with percussionist Jaroslav Kořán substituting for Zimák. Manipulating his singing-saw like other workshop implement masters such as Roy Brooks and Paul Lovens, Swetja adds its ghostly chafing textures to Láska’s sul ponticello bass tones. An aural picture of Transylvanian vampires flying in and out of a haunted castle’s windows is the end result. Meanwhile, the saxman adds curvaceous smears to the quivering wingspan sounds.

The other outstanding track, “Mark’s Mode”, features Haslam and its namesake, Mexican pianist Mark Aanderud. Here, the reedman’s harsh tongue stops and breath control are matched with high-frequency cadences and chiming chords from the keyboardist. Offering a cascade of irregularly voiced, but cohesive patterns, Aanderud assembles Latinesque tremolos with the same intensity that Haslam creates new forms from warm mouthfuls of slurred vibrato.

On the other hand, “Sagem Blues”, a quartet piece that replaces Swetja’s strings with Aanderud’s piano doesn’t fare as well. Bluesier – perhaps as a lampoon – rather than a conventional blues, it floats on the bassist’s steady pulse, with the pianist’s mainstream comping and the baritone saxophonist’s legato output making it sound like a straight-ahead cop from Gerry Mulligan’s final decade, when the American saxophonist finally came to terms with the piano.

The Album showcases some little heard Eastern European soloists. It also confirms that seniority status has enhanced rather than limited George Haslam’s creative power and his restless search for new playing partners.

Visit George Haslam on the web.

The George Haslam Record Label - Purchase on Line

SLAM is a small independent CD label founded by GEORGE HASLAM in 1989. George explains how it came into being:

'In 1989 I decided to record some solo improvisations on baritone sax  -  I had previously made a couple of LPs on Tony Williams’ “Spotlite” label but the improvised music would be outside the recognized field of Spotlite.  With advice from 1 or 2 small label owners  -  notably Eddie Prevost (Matchless)  -  I decided to do it myself.  In the event I made the CD with Paul Rutherford, solo tracks by each of us and duo tracks.  The CD was called “1989 - And All That” and I used the name SLAM.  The following year I played a wonderful concert in the Holywell Music Room, Oxford, with Paul, Lol Coxhill and Howard Riley.  It was recorded and released as a second CD.  A little later Howard came to me with a great recording by the quartet he was co-leading with Elton Dean and he asked if I may be interested in releasing it on “my label”  - that was the first time I thought of it as a label.

During the next decade the catalogue took shape, centering on the British free jazz scene of the 1990s, including lesser-known practitioners from various parts of the country and a good percentage of women artists.  Obviously there is a large section occupying my own recordings  - that was the original purpose of the label;  I have tried to include recordings made in different countries I have visited, with musicians from those countries.  The final section is recordings by foreign artists, including some major names  - Max Roach, Mal Waldron, Steve Lacy  - whom I have had opportunities to know - and play with.

For any successful germination the right conditions must come together - artists, venues, support and recording experts.  In Oxford were two of the greatest, Michael Gerzon and Tim Turan. Sadly Michael is no longer with us but Tim is still our main man. 

The record scene has changed during recent years  - recording and duplicating CDs is easy, most musicians are making some to sell on gigs.  The difficulty is beyond that level - distribution and sales.  Major labels are geared up for that - they deal only with music they think will sell in large quantities. 

SLAM comes in the area between these extremes. Once a project is agreed, musicians have full control of the production of the recording and artwork - as in a ‘self-release’ -  SLAM manages production, pressing, promotion, sales and distribution.  In many cases most sales may still be on gigs but the CD has the benefit of reviews, possible airplay and distribution at home and abroad  -  and, of course, the strength of the mighty SLAM publicity machine.

One of the few really free spirits of British jazz, Baritone Saxophonist George Haslam.  JAZZ Review, UK August 2005
Five tracks of top-flight improvisation confirm that British baritone saxophonist George Haslam is one of the mainstays of his instrument;  Ken Waxman,  Jazz Week, Canada
“On baritone Haslam is a great awesome force. Why has George Haslam never gotten his due? He's one of the outstanding improvisors of our age."  “George Haslam fascinates because he nudges the limits, explores unchartered territories, plays creatively and conveys delight in doing so.  “Haslam possesses an attack and timbre that speaks directly to the blues roots of his music”  “He has a gruff smoothness and boppish dexterity on baritone sax that is as virtuosic as Gerry Mulligan”   “Haslam’s mellow harmonic patterns” “Haslam, the root of this whole celebration, shows off his fat, unusual tone and his gift for the simplicity of folk like improvisation”  Cadence,USA
“Pretty much anything that George Haslam plays on is guaranteed to be worth listening to and this is no exception.” Jazz Views UK
George Haslam is one of the most interesting bari sax players to go beyond traditional styling's and explore the low range of the free.”     Beyond Coltrane

“Haslam proves himself to be an excellent baritone player” Rockerilla, Italy

“Haslam’s beautifully tender playing sometimes recalls late-period Lester Young”  “Scholarly and assiduous kind of post free playing”  “In the duet with Haslam," furious free-jazz playing from (Howard) Riley meets with sympathetic and white hot response, managed without the reedsman sacrificing the warmth and richness of his tone”     Wire, UK

“The sensitivity and attack of Haslam”         Jazz Passion, Switzerland

“One of the finest musicians currently developing the art of improvisation  ........authoritative and highly sensitive”   Wire, UK

“One of the lesser known but more important voices on the saxophone”     Jazz till Twelve, Ukraine

“The charming and playful humour between Haslam’s fruity baritone and versatile vocalist Liz Hodgson” Jazz Magazine, UK

“George Haslam is that rarity, a bona fide baritone specialist”        Ostinato, UK

“The last time I encountered so conversational a form of improvisation was in a rematch of the Giuffre-Bley-Swallow trio” Jazz on CD, UK

“George Haslam, a much underrated baritone saxophonist, was excellent”   Derek Ansell, UK

“Thick toned baritone”       Jazz Notes, Australia

Haslam has carved his reputation from his musical handling of the rich throaty baritone saxophone”   The Standard, Hong Kong

“George Haslam, gritty baritone saxist, provides some gorgeous gut-bucket r & b”   Yorkshire Evening Post, UK

Skill liberates him but he stays in control and his solos were worth being repeated immediately so that the listener could capture his whole thought”  Clarin, Argentina

“The euphoric drive of George Haslam” Jazzman, France

“Gruff friendly baritone”  London Musicians’ Collective, UK

“The complete saxophonist” Bobby Carcassés, Cuba

“George Haslam playing barrel chested but remarkably fluent baritone saxophone” The Guardian, UK

“Brilliant work in improvisation in the world of free jazz” South China Morning Star

“The real challenge for a jazz musician playing unaccompanied solo concert was for Haslam a smooth path of harmonious and rhythmic richness which can only be found in those who have made the journey  between what is academic and what is new”            La Capital, Argentina


Jazz Workshops:

George is also keen to impart his skills to Students of Jazz and can hold Workshop/Master Class projects in Colleges, Theatres, Studios and other suitable venues.  These can be linked up with daytime assemblies at any of the evening Concert Venues.

  • Details: The George Haslam Jazz Workshop provides a platform for seasoned professionals and total beginners alike can learn, grow and flourish together in a uniquely inspiring and supportive environment.
    One day workshop lasting 3 hours, would consist of:-
    ·         up and medium tempo grooves
    ·         contemporary jazz styles
    .         Improvisation

Education and working with young musicians is a very important area of George Haslam's work and he gives individual tuition on saxophone both in schools and privately, coaches youth big bands and organises workshops on Learning the Blues which he has presented over the years from South America to Hong Kong.  Jazz is a Universal Language and has no Boundaries or Borders.  Classes can be structured to specific needs and encompass all music genres.

Workshops function well in conjunction with a show.  Talk to us about the possibilities. The Artists knows best what they can do and what works, it knows who the potential participants are.  Workshops will give local people a chance to have a go. They will educate, encourage participation, raise awareness and be fun.  They require good planning, preparation and evaluation.  If the workshop is combined with an event, it will encourage new people to come to the performance (offer a joint ticket with entry to the main performance).  You are assured of a good audience, timid people may well feel encouraged to come to another post concert workshop the next day. 
It's a brilliant idea and reaches so many people - with excellent professional teacher-performers and a great chance to meet them in person.  Attach a short talk to the main event. Get the audience to come a little early to talk to the Musical Director or stay behind to meet the Band.

Jazz @ The Speed of Light over 4000 Miles

Czech Centre
13 Harley Street
tel: +44-20-7307 5180
fax: +44-20-7323 3709

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Last modified: 18/02/2012