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This season’s second piano trio arrives via Laurence Hobgood, whose previous Jazz Series visits have seen him serve as musical director for vocalist Kurt Elling, a position the Chicagoan-turned-New Yorker held for close to two decades.
Hardly a “rookie,” Hobgood, who would release titles under his own name periodically in between his work with Elling, is, through and through, a seasoned veteran. Last year the pianist released Honor Thy Fathers – a remarkable trio effort that one could classify as paying homage to some of his personal heroes and mentors – including his father. Hobgood describes the recording as a celebration of “some of the jazz trio’s most iconic figures (Bill Evans, Keith Jarrett, Oscar Peterson, etc.). The Hobgood session offers recognition to his teacher at the University of Illinois and to the likes of Nat King Cole and late bassist Charlie Haden.
Hobgood doesn’t just lead the trio, he lives inside of it. Nearly 15 years ago now, he wrote an article for the national trade magazine, Jazz Times, titled “The Art of the Trio,” for which he received a prestigious ASCAP/Deems Taylor award – no small feat – which is given annually for outstanding music journalism.
Hobgood, who is joined by his current working trio, bassist Matthew Clohesy and drummer Jared Schonig, spreads his repertoire out, culling from a myriad of sources including, but not limited to: beboppers Bud Powell, Thelonious Monk and Clifford Brown and then, along the way, mixing in the Great American Songbook with selections written by Cole Porter, Harold Arlen and Rodgers & Hart.
This performance is, for good reason, called Exceptional Pianistic Explorations: Part II