Can you imagine Steve Haines, music professor and veteran jazz man, not playing jazz? Sort of like imagining Virginia Woolf not writing novels or Martin Scorsese not making movies. Fact is, he had to contemplate that stark reality. But now he’s back on stage, bass in hand. And he’s ready to jam.

What happened?

Just before leaving on an international tour, he woke up with terrible pain in his right shoulder. “I canceled everywhere I was going to go, since the MRI showed a mass about the size of a racquetball in my shoulder. It was pushing on my shoulder and causing ridiculous pain.”

He had it removed. But because the mass had been pressing on a nerve, he couldn’t lift his arm more than about an inch forwards and sideways. No further.

“It meant no bass playing, no piano playing, no writing on the blackboard.”

After a year of that, he explains, a nerve specialist performed surgery, moving one of the nerves going to his tricep into the deltoid.

“Six months later, I got the use of my arm back. Now I can lift it all the way up. It’s incredible.”

He’s had a comeback physically and musically – and in spirit. “During the time I couldn’t use my arm, I thought about changing careers.” He felt depressed for a while. “This pity party went on for about three months. At some point I thought, ‘How’s this working out for me?!’ – and I realized my attitude wasn’t helping.”

So he changed his outlook.

“I just thought to myself, ‘I’ll just enjoy what I have, and not think about the future. What if my arm comes back? Then I’ve spent all this time worrying for nothing.’” So he started focusing on the good things, he recalls. “I was very, very happy.”

And now there’s a most excellent “good thing” to focus on. Getting on stage again. With some wonderful UNCG colleagues.

“Playing bass now feels really good, “ he said. “Now I’m reminded what a blessing music really is to play. I don’t take it for granted.”

Come and help Steve Haines celebrate his return to performing.

The special concert will feature:

Brandon Lee, trumpet

Chad Eby, saxophones

John Salmon, piano

Stephanie Schmidt, organ

Steve Haines, bass

Daniel Faust, drums

Works by Steve Haines and Wayne Shorter will be performed. Proceeds will benefit the Miles Davis Jazz Studies Program at UNCG.

The concert will be Thursday, March 27, 7:30 p.m, Organ Recital Hall, UNCG Music Building.

$15 adults, $10 seniors and students (Tickets only available at the door. Includes parking.)

For more information, call Steve Haines, director of the jazz studies program, at 917-579-9796 or email

By Mike Harris, University Relations