Saxophonist and composer, Hailey Niswanger (pronounced “NICE–wonger”), graduated in December of 2011 with a B.A. in Jazz Performance from the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, on a full scholarship. Born February 12, 1990 in Houston, Hailey grew up in Portland, Oregon, and now currently lives in Los Angeles, CA, after spending 7 years in Brooklyn, New York. Hailey has shared the stage with Esperanza Spalding, Terri Lyne Carrington, Harvey Mason, Mike Clark, Michael Wolff, Ralph Peterson Jr., and other jazz greats. Hailey leads her own bands and has performed at the San Jose Jazz Summer Fest (2018), Portland Jazz Festival (2015), Cathedral Park Jazz Festival (2015), Northampton Jazz Festival (2013), Saratoga Jazz Festival (2012, 2010), Red Clay Jazz Festival (2011), Salem Jazz Festival (2011), Beaches International Jazz Festival (2010), Elkhart Jazz Festival (2010), Mary Lou Williams Jazz Festival (2009), Tri-C Jazz Festival (2009), The Blue Note Jazz Club in New York, Smalls Jazz Club, National Sawdust, among others. Hailey was part of Esperanza Spalding's Radio Music Society, touring the United States, Europe, Asia, Curaçao, and Cape Verde. Hailey has also appeared with the Ralph Peterson fo'tet and sextet, performing at the Pittsburg Jazz Festival, the Side Door Jazz Club, and Smalls Jazz Club in New York City. She is a member of the Wolff & Clark Expedition, a band formed by pianist, Michael Wolff, and drummer, Mike Clark, and was featured on their latest album, Wolff & Clark Expedition 2. Hailey has been a reoccurring guest soloist with The Soul Rebels Brass Band, and has performed with Demi Lovato on Saturday Night Live, and noise pop duo Sleigh Bells on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and the Late Show with David Letterman. Hailey has released 3 album under her own name, Confeddie (2009), The Keeper (2012), and PDX Soul (2015).
In 2016 Hailey formed MAE.SUN, which features entirely original compositions. MAE.SUN is a mindful and eclectic band that defies genres and pushes boundaries. Inspired by swirling sounds from around the world, this project taps into the collective consciousness, and serves as an engaging mediation. MAE.SUN takes listeners on an emotional journey from beginning to end, inviting them to feel connected to the present moment, and all that is. MAE.SUN has performed at notable venues in NYC, including Music Hall of Williamsburg, National Sawdust, and Bowery Electric. The group has also toured the West Coast, performing at the San Jose Jazz Summer Fest, and a live set on WBGO’s The Checkout. MAE.SUN comprises of: Nikara Warren on the vibraphone, Axel Laugart on keys, Andrew Renfroe on guitar, Aaron Liao on bass, and David Frazier Jr. on drums. Their debut album Vol. 1: Inter-be was released in 2017, and Vol. 2: Into The Flow, will be released November 1, 2019.
Hailey has been listed among the DownBeat critics poll for rising star on alto and soprano saxophone for the past seven consecutive years. Her self-produced and self-released recording debut as a leader, Confeddie, (2009) established her throughout North America. Promoted to U.S. and Canadian press and radio, the CD received stellar reviews in JazzTimes, Jazziz and Downbeat, and inspired veteran jazz critic Nat Hentoff to pen a profile of Hailey in The Wall Street Journal in November, 2009, which he included in his book At the Jazz Band Ball: Sixty Years on the Jazz Scene (the day after this article was published, Confeddie was the #2 downloaded jazz album at Amazon.com where it remained in the Jazz Top-100 for over a week and debuted the following week at #13 on the Billboard Jazz Album Chart). Programmed on over 100 radio stations, it was on the CMJ Jazz Top-40 chart for 11 consecutive weeks including four in the top-10, three in the top-5 and two at its peak position of #4. Confeddie also spent three weeks on the JazzWeek Top-50 chart, was among the top 100 jazz CDs in the U.S. for two months and was cited by NPR on its annual year-end lists as one of the top-10 jazz CDs of 2009. Hailey demonstrates even greater virtuosity on her horns—alto and soprano saxophones—and deeper grounding in tradition with her second release, The Keeper, (2012). She showcases her original compositions which reflect her abiding affinity for the bop and post-bop genres of jazz and profound respect for her mentors. Her third release, PDX Soul, (2015) was featured on NPR. Hailey also recorded flute on Terri Lyne Carrington's GRAMMY award winning album, The Mosaic Project.