Known for his commitment and versatility trumpeter Haneef N. Nelson is continuing to make his mark on the music of his mentors. Composer/Arranger, Bandleader, Sideman, Musical Curator, and Educator, Haneef continues to solidify his place as one of the pillars in his community. He is known for being someone that works to keep the integrity and authenticity of the scene going as well as being a musician that is respected for his contributions in both the performing and presenting of quality live music.
Born in Brooklyn, NY, Haneef moved to Uniondale, NY as a baby and was raised there. As a child music was always present in his home. The soundtrack of His early childhood as played by his mother included artists such as Luther Vandross; Earth, Wind, & Fire; Stevie Wonder; Minnie Ripperton; Frank Sinatra; Barbara Streisand; Diana Ross; Millie Jackson; Sade; and a host of others. Put in his own words, “I didn’t really start listening to jazz until my teenage years but on Sunday mornings my mom used to listen to the Gospel show on 107.5 WBLS all the time. In the background while the host was talking you would always hear the intro to Miles Davis’ famous recording of Someday My Prince Will Come. Miles’ sound was always an influence on me even then before I even liked or wanted to listen to jazz.”
Haneef tried several instruments before playing trumpet. “I really wanted to play alto and tenor saxophone. I started on violin but didn’t like that too much. Then I tried trombone and percussion before being tricked into playing trumpet by my teacher Laura Crowe Sanchez and I’ve been hooked on playing trumpet ever since.”
Haneef’s early music education continued at the famed Jazzmobile Program where he studied trumpet, music theory, as well as played in ensembles with people such as Eddie Preston, Cecil Bridgewater, Donald Byrd; John Stubblefield; Frank Foster; Charles Davis; Roland Guerrero as well as several others. Donald Byrd became a mentor outside of Jazzmobile along with his high school music teachers Cedric J. Lemmie from Uniondale High School and Dave Burns from the Long Island High School of the Arts. These 3 mentors encouraged Haneef to apply for and attend the African-American Music Department at the Hartt School to be taught by its founder Jackie McLean. Along with Jackie McLean, Haneef studied with Steve Davis, Nat Reeves, Raymond Williams, Chris Casey, Mary DiPaola, and Roger Murtha. Hartt gave Haneef the opportunity to not only learn from these great musicians, but to also grow and learn about the cultures and tradition of music with classmates that were like minded. It was in Hartford that he furthered his playing in Latin Jazz when he met the Curtis Brothers and would play various Jazz and Salsa gigs with them.
His passion for music also translated into a passion for education. As a teacher he encourages students to learn how to play their instruments as well as to learn the culture and traditions of the music they are playing. Haneef consistently tells students, “Until you are playing your life through your instrument you aren’t playing music.” Haneef has taught at The Artist Collective and served as the 1st Director of Jazz Studies at the Community Music School of Springfield in addition to his time spent working as a teaching assistant for the Big Band at the Jackie McLean Institute of Jazz within the Hartt School along with a private studio. He has given masterclasses and workshops in various educational and professional settings and has spent time recording with various Gospel and Jazz Artists.
Haneef holds a Bachelor’s of Music in African-American Music Study from the Hartt School and is the Founder and President of Neefjazz Entertainment. Through his entertainment company, Haneef curates the Jazz Monday event at Black Eyed Sally’s in Hartford, CT.
Haneef currently serves as a keyboard and trumpeter at International Gospel Fellowship Church and is the Founder/Artistic Director of the following groups: the Haneef N. Nelson Quintet; the Neeftet; the Hartford Legacy Jazz Orchestra; the Hartford Jazz Composers Collective; the Paul Brown Legacy Ensemble. In addition to these groups he is a long standing member of several other bands in multiple genres. He has also had the honor of sharing the stage with the likes of Rene McLean, Bill Saxton, Jimmy Owens, Donald Byrd, William Cepeda, Wilson “Chembo” Corniel, Nat Reeves, Steve Davis, Yoron Israel, Avery Sharpe, Winard Harper, Frank Lacy, Bill Lowe, Chico Freeman, Helen Sung, Wayne Escoffrey, Kris Allen, Abraham Burton, E.J. Strickland, Brandee Younger, Dezron Douglas, David Bryant, Stacey Dillard, Zaccai Curtis, Luques Curtis, Ray McMorrin, Josh Evans, Doobie Powell, Billy “Church Boy” Powell, Kevin Powell, Ace Livingstone, and Musiq Soulchild among many others.
Haneef is available for Performances; Writing Commissions; Masterclasses; Arts & Cultural Consulting; as well as Leadership Development and Arts Based Technical Training for the Business World.
TP612N | Professional Lightweight Bb Trumpet, Natural/Unlacquered
TP608 | Professional Bb Trumpet, Silver Plated
FLU669 | Professional Flugelhorn, Silver Plated
CR611 | Cornet, Lacquer