Rob Hayes, VP of external affairs, reports from the HNQ’s recording session.

The time has flown by here.  The band has been recording at the Steelgrass Farm Studio, and has eight to ten strong tracks in the can.  Producer and Berklee Professor Stephen Webber is thrilled with the band’s sound, and how fast and unerringly they work.  They’ve been having a great time.  They’ve even snuck out for an ocean swim a few times!

Steelgrass Farm, where the Berklee group is being hosted, is amazingly cool.  Agriculture and agritourism are a big part of what happens here.   They are growing cacao for chocolate, keeping bees, they have goats, it just goes on.  They are in the forefront of new agricultural thinking here in Hawaii, and that this funky little paradise also includes a truly wonderful recording studio makes this an ideal location to glimpse the future of food on these islands, while making great music.

The band played two warm-up gigs for the Kauai Red Clay Jazz Festival, at the Kauai Lagoons Marriott, and then the festival’s Meet the Artist event at the Oasis on the Beach restaurant, at the Waipouli Resort.  At this second gig, headliner and NEA Jazz Master Hubert Laws was seated just stage right, when Hailey and band began to play.  Everyone present saw him stand, his mouth agape at what he was hearing, and work his way to the side of the stage.

When the tune was over, Mr. Laws went to the mic, and said how truly amazed and stunned he was by Hailey and the Quartet.  He repeated these comments, with gusto, when he saw the band at festival soundcheck the next day.  Praise from an NEA Jazz Master.  Not bad.

Of course all of this recording, and pre-fest gigs, led up to the main event, the group’s performance on the festival, playing in the undercard just before Mr. Laws, on Saturday, June 25.  It was a great set, under an entire range of Kauai weather: winds, gentle rain, bright sun, pretty much everything but flying coconuts.  Throughout, the Red Clay crowd at the Marriott Kauai Lagoons resort flat-out loved Hailey and the Quartet, and delivered their appreciation loudly!

Here are two tunes from their set at the 2011 Kauai Red Clay Jazz Festival, “Straight Up,” composed by Hailey, and “Dienda,” written by Kenny Kirkland.