On Wake Up Call, East Coast improviser Taylor Haskins successfully wears a variety of hats -- not only trumpeter/soloist, but also producer, composer (he wrote all of the tunes himself), and bandleader/arranger. The team of players led by Haskins on this 2000 session points to the fact that one doesn't have to head a big band to provide complex, intricate ensemble work; Haskins generally oversees an octet, employing Andrew Rathbun on tenor and soprano sax, Ben Monder on guitar, Guillermo Klein on piano, Ben Street on bass, Regina Bellantese on violin, Yusuke Yamamoto on percussion, and Jeff Hirshfield on drums. Singer Aubrey Smith is featured on a few tracks (including the dusky "Parking Lots"), although Wake Up Call is mostly instrumental -- and this time, most of Haskins' instrumentals are on the cerebral side. Adjectives like cerebral, angular, and abstract easily apply to "Hecuba," "Nadar," and other post-bop pieces that he wrote for this album. Stylistically, Wake Up Call is perhaps best described as advanced post-bop that veers into mildly avant-garde territory at times. The material is never radically avant-garde -- certainly not the way that Anthony Braxton is radically avant-garde -- although Wake Up Call isn't an album of Young Lions playing Tin Pan Alley warhorses either. And whatever terminology one uses to describe Wake Up Call, Haskins is not dogmatic; Haskins uses a few synthesizers when he feels it is appropriate (something many Young Lions would never dream of doing), and even though Wake Up Call isn't fusion in the Al di Meola/Scott Henderson/Return to Forever sense, Haskins isn't afraid to inject some funk and rock overtones when the urge strikes him. Wake Up Call doesn't go out of its way to be accessible, but for those who aren't afraid of the abstract, it is a respectable demonstration of the type of ensemble work that Haskins is capable of.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson