When asked why he prefers acoustic to electric or digital instruments, David responds, "I use as much of the piano as possible the soundboard, the strings, as well as the keys. This just can’t be done on an electronic piano. Something’s missing in electric and digital instruments, a complexity that enriches sound making language possible."
When David speaks with his piano, students and audiences listen. In both concert and master classes, David improvises a universe of musical dialogue, of instruments conversing, or rather people talking to each other, challenging and inspiring each other. Enchanted students and audiences hear a spirited exchange and an emotional revelation and dialogue where one thought leads to another. They enjoy hearing musicians talking to each other in a language that exists beyond our spoken languages.
David studied privately with Czech-American composer Tomas Svoboda for five years, and he has spent many years playing with some of the world’s best improvisers, including Roswell Rudd, Julian Priester, Andrew Cyrille, Han Bennink, Bud Shank, Buell Neidlinger, John Tchicai, Gerry Hemingway and many others.
Requests for Chaney’s master classes in improvisation come from all over the world. David teaches improvisation within the parameters of good composition the creation of a new world of music within the old world of classical composition. By using figures of speech musical parables, analogies, examples and the like, David teaches facets of composition. "Composition is the technique of communicating ideas in a clear way. To combine composition and improvisation, you transfer your thoughts to your instrument so that less and less time passes between your thoughts and your playing.
"Using principles of classic composition, you learn what other people have done; then when improvising, you apply the ideas in a free context. And that gives you new ideas," Haney said. "Your craft as a composer gives you the tools to make your point musically. Figures of speech make great conversation and knowledge of the principles of composition makes for great improvised music."
With Argentinean’s Diego Chamy on drums and Jorge Hernaez on bass, the David Haney Trio recently toured Argentina and Chile. The trio played several priced concerts, as well as free concerts sponsored by the U.S. State Department. Crowds surprised them at both. Multitudes of young people attended the concerts, along with children, their parents, and grandparents. "We didn't speak the same language, but we communicated musically. The most exciting thing to me was how appreciative and open to new music they were. They understand struggle and accomplishment," said Haney.
Everywhere in Argentina and Chile it was the same. The audience kept quiet at first, but as each concert progressed, the crowd became more aware of the new music. "The people listened, they got it and they loved it," said Haney. "And then they applauded, and they even cheered. Scores of them came up after the concerts, eyes wide open and full of questions about what we just did."
Yes, it is a kind of magic-enlightening magic. In San Rafael, Argentina, the trio played at the exquisite Champanera Winery to more than 200 people. In Buenos Aires at Teatro Colon, one of the world’s greatest opera halls, the trio performed to an over-capacity crowd. Everywhere the David Haney Trio went, they enjoyed big crowds, culminating in a performance at the 2nd International Festival de Jazz in Valparaiso, Chile to more than 700 enthusiastic people.
The trio plans extensive tours this year in Europe and South America. As a quartet, they will play in Italy and Switzerland with the great Italian guitarist Enzo Rocco.