Winter’s Jazz Club Presents REVIEW: The Two of Us: Rhiannon & Laurence Hobgood – Raw Masters At Play
As this listener awaited the dynamic duo to start their set, an employee informed us that the Winter Jazz Club was a “listening room”, and that they wanted to keep it that way. Dimly lit, with four grounding columns flanking the stage, the evening had been set not just for something fantastic, but something intimate and raw, leaving us emotionally spent by the performance close.
A Well-Oiled Creation Machine
Perhaps the most impressive part of the evening was the connection and sense of play that Rhiannon and Hobgood displayed and embodied every second of the night. Hobgood would start a somber melody without prompt, and Rhiannon would quickly jump into the jazz standard he was evoking, without skipping a beat. The natural give and take between these two is palpable, but not to the point of routine. Far from it, throughout the evening, Laurence and Rhiannon were constantly impressing and surprising each other. Laurence’s music was flowing through Rhiannon’s veins as she prepared her next improvisation, and these surprises became expressions of pure joy. Electric seems to be a woeful understatement in describing the relationship between these two legends on stage together.
Winter’s Jazz Club Showcases Incredible Vocal Depth
The sounds coming from Rhiannon’s vocal chords were not always the ones you might expect. Beyond the airy, jazz sound that one might presume they will hear in a standard jazz set, Rhiannon showed an astounding vocal variety, the likes of which most have probably not heard before. Belts, chants, grunts, slurps, yells, cheers, screeches, scats, and any other sound you may be able to comprehend all were thrown out at precisely the right time in Rhiannon’s improvisation, which flowed out in an ebb with the jazz standards in the set, to the point that one may not be able to determine which lyrics were Rhiannon’s at all. At one point, Rhiannon, alone, sang a song’s entire orchestration, switching between baseline and melody seamlessly and passionately. There was a soul behind this depth as well, an aching sorrow accompanied by natural worship that made a powerful pair.
Laurence Hobgood’s Sense of Mood
It’s striking that Hobgood seems grounding in how Rhiannon and the audience are feeling. With this knowledge, he can pull on our heartstrings in ways we don’t think possible. If Rhiannon starts chanting an African melody, within seconds Laurence is already in the right key and improvising his own harmonies and chords around her. There were several times in the show where Rhiannon (and the audience) were so deeply moved by one of Hobgood’s solos that all we could do was acknowledge it and applaud, even if it was in the middle of a song.
If you’re looking for an intimate, quiet, but devoted appreciation of jazz, and ready for raw emotion and true vulnerability, look no further.
Winter’s Jazz Club has ongoing performances with musical talents like Rhiannon and Laurence six nights a week. For more information, visit the Winter Jazz Club Website
Posted on June 1, 2018 by Nate Hall
About the Author
Nate is an actor/composer/playwright currently based in Chicago, and originally from Los Alamos, New Mexico. He is the first graduate of Texas Tech's BFA Musical Theatre program, and has been acting for over six years, performing in the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Festival and Santa Fe Musical Festival, among others. His plays have been featured in one act/ten-minute play festivals, and his musical Fade Out had it's first reading in December 2017.