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Advice From the Laurence Hobgood Trio: 'Honor Thy Fathers' [REVIEW]

By Mike Greenblatt m.greenblatt@classicalite.com on Feb 09, 2016 01:48 PM EST

Laurence Hobgood served as Musical Director for singer Kurt Elling from 1995 to 2013, traveling the world and composing, arranging and playing piano on 10 CDs. He won a 2009 Grammy for producing Elling's Dedicated To You: Kurt Elling Sings The Music Of Coltrane and Hartman. For his first time as leader, Hobgood garnered two masters in bassist John Patitucci and drummer Kendrick Scott for Honor Thy Fathers (Circumstantial Records), a tribute to those who mentored him and influenced him.

The first Honor for a personal mentor sums up the personality of his late dad. "Sanctuary" is all stately elegance and quiet storm. The first Honor to an influence is a cover of Nat King Cole's "Straighten Up And Fly Right;" transmogrified into an oddly circuitous 7/4 meter. "Triptych" celebrates his favorite college teacher, composer Salvatore Martirano of the University of Illinois. He wrote "The Waltz" for Bill Evans and "The Road Home" for Charlie Haden. He covers "Give Me The Simple Life" from the first jazz album he ever owned, Oscar Peterson's 1970 Tracks.

Five of eight are originals. Stevie Wonder's "If It's Magic" is almost double the speed of this Songs In The Key Of Life track. It all ends with another original, "Shirakumo No Michi," written for Wayne Shorter. Hobgood had read The Way of the White Clouds, the true story of a German man who went on to become a Tibetan Lama. Shorter, in a sense, has become something of a Jazz Bodhisattva, thus worthy of the parallel.

Patitucci is a wellspring of support. His discreet runs up and down the fretboard of his double-bass not only anchors the bottom, but adds a fluttery brilliance in the spaces between Hobgood's chords and creativity. Patitucci's solos are, in a word, mesmerizing...his touch sterling. Drummer Scott has a language of his own: a multi-rhythmic polyglot of constant intricacy.

Honor Thy Fathers is not only good advice but a heck of an hour.

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TagsLaurence Hobgood Trio, REVIEW, Kurt Elling, John Patitucci