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Eric Hayslett's Faithful Fantasy

Eric Hayslett
We're Not in Kansas Anymore: Transplanted R&B man Eric Hayslett prefers California's musical landscape.

New album 'Faith and Fantasy' shows off the singer's instrumental and production skills

By Nicky Baxter

ERIC HAYSLETT is laughing uproariously at a private joke. Hayslett laughs a lot. And why shouldn't he? He's just recently been recruited by young blues sensation James Armstrong to play bass, and he has a brand-new CD out. Best of all, he's not in Kansas City anymore. "Yeah, I'm from the 'Show Me' state," he says before erupting in a loud guffaw. "But I had to get out of Missouri. Seemed like I had done everything there was to do before I reached adulthood." That's not just arrogance talking: Hayslett was already developing professional chops as a musician and had grasped the rudiments of studio multi-tracking before he completed high school. "I did my first session when I was 14," he says proudly.

Hayslett is a crackup to listen to; words spill from him, and just about everything he says concludes with an exclamation point. He is in Warren Zevon's words, an excitable boy. "It's called gettin' in where you can fit in," Hayslett says. Since his arrival in San Jose seven years ago, Hayslett has done just that, having performed with blues singer Zakiya Hooker and produced gospel singer Beverly Rivers' superb debut The Prophecy; he's even written jingles for local businesses. On his own, Hayslett has opened for acts that range from the techno-funk outfit Zapp to Sun Ra: It doesn't hurt that he can fit into just about any musical situation. Hayslett is a fine bassist and a whiz on the keyboards (as his recent work with reggae unit Equal Solution has indicated), and he's equally adept on drums.

All the skills he has acquired over the years, both technical and musical, have been brought to bear on his Suspect Recordings debut, Faith and Fantasy. The R&B-flavored album showcases Hayslett's skills as a singer and triple-threat musician. Additionally, all of the album's 12 tracks were sequenced, programmed and produced by Hayslett as well. Asked to describe his virgin offering, Hayslett is uncharacteristically at a loss for words: "Contemporary R&B, I guess." That's a fairly accurate description, though "smo-o-o-v-e" ought to be appended.

Hayslett turns businesslike, momentarily. "What I wanted to accomplish," he says, "was to have a marketable product out--and if nothing else, I'll have a good-looking résumé." That said, Hayslett proceeds to tickle his own funny bone once more.

Eric Hayslet plays Tuesday (Dec. 3) at 9pm at the Agenda Lounge, 399 S. First St., San Jose. Call for ticket information. (408/287-4087)

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From the November 27-December 4, 1996 issue of Metro

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