RAVE Review: Laurence Hobgood Unveils A Daring New Project at Green Mill

For two decades, pianist Laurence Hobgood was best known as accompanist and primary arranger for singer Kurt Elling.

When the two abruptly parted company in 2013, one wondered how Hobgood would go about forging a musical identity of his own.

Singers, after all, stand front and center and, by definition, bask in the spotlight. But how do those who toil just outside it make themselves heard and seen?

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10 Best Jazz CDs 2016

Laurence Hobgood Trio: "Honor Thy Fathers" (Circumstantial):

Pianist Hobgood pays homage to his "musical fathers" — including Oscar Peterson, Bill Evans and Nat King Cole — and in so doing achieves some of the finest playing of an already distinguished career. The sheer beauty of Hobgood's tone and touch are worth savoring, and there's no missing the poetry of his "Sanctuary" (a salute to his father), the joyousness of his approach to rhythm in "Straighten Up and Fly Right" (a tribute to Cole) and the impressionistic canvas of his "The Waltz" (suggesting Evans). Joined by bassist John Patitucci and drummer Kendrick Scott, Hobgood never has sounded better.

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Review: Laurence Hobgood Trio, Honor Thy Fathers Circumstantial

It’s easy to hear similarities between Laurence Hobgood’s piano and that of Brad Mehldau, who shares primary influences (Keith Jarrett and Bill Evans). But Hobgood, known for his years as Kurt Elling’s musical director, differentiates himself via another cluster of inspirations: Oscar Peterson, Nat “King” Cole and his own father, theater director Burnet Mclean. These and other mentors are the focus of his radiant trio record Honor Thy Fathers.

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