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  • Laurence Hobgood (2009)

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    Though born in North Carolina, and now resident in New York, pianist Laurence Hobgood has been associated with Chicago for most of his life, having moved to Illinois via Texas as a boy, and attending the University of Illinois, ultimately ending up in Chicago in the late 1980s, and playing with such as drummer Paul Wertigo and guitarist Fareed Haque.

    One night in '93, while Laurence was part of saxophonist Ed Petersen's quintet and performing at Chicago's legendary Green Mill, a young singer asked to sit in. The reaction of almost any jazz group to such a request would be incredulity ("Singer? Sit in??"), all the more so in this case since the group was known for its "beyond difficul" repertoire and experimental approach. But the singer was Kurt Elling, and thereby hangs a tale.

    Laurence became Kurt's musical director, and for 15 years he has been arranging and composing and producing Kurt's music, concerts and recordings. Kurt's talent is such that it was inevitable that he would become world famous: but we have the Kurt we know, as opposed to some other Kurt, precisely because of that now-15-year association (longer than the median duration of US marriages).

    Not content with those musical duties, Laurence is also a published author (winning the ASCAP Deems Taylor Award in 2003 for his writing on Keith Jarrett's trio) and also, to his own surprise, a one-off cartoonist for "Down Beat" magazine. He doesn't neglect his piano playing, either: the Chicago Tribune has called him "a powerhouse ... with a Herculean technique", and Dave Brubeck has said that Laurence is simply "one of the most incredible pianists I've ever heard." He records for the UK label Naim, his latest being a duo recording with bassist Charlie Haden.

    Pick Artist Album Song Label
    # 1 Miles Davis Nefertiti Nefertiti (Columbia)
    # 2 Chick Corea Now He Sings, Now He Sobs Windows (Blue Note)
    # 3 Jack DeJohnette   Nine over Reggae Not commercially available
    # 4 Miles Davis Complete Plugged Nickel I Fall in Love Too Easily (Columbia)
    # 5 Michael Brecker Pilgrimage Anagram (Heads Up)
    # 6 John Coltrane A Love Supreme Part I--Acknowledgement (Impulse)
    # 7 Wayne Shorter Speak No Evil Dance Cadaverous (Blue Note)
    Book Bill Bryson, "A Short History of Nearly Everything"
    Luxury Item "My high-end Naim audio equipment"
    Castaways by date
    Chris Amberger
    23 Jun
    Gerald Beckett
    01 Sep
    Buzz Brooks
    28 Apr
    Jarrett Cherner
    16 Jun
    Kev Choice
    30 Jun
    Anat Cohen
    28 Jul
    Natalie Cressman
    10 Feb
    Hershey Felder
    07 Apr
    Mitchell Feldman
    18 Aug
    Mike Galisatus
    03 Nov
    Aaron Germain
    06 Jan
    Robin Gregory
    17 Feb
    Tamir Hendelman
    13 Oct
    Kasey Knudsen
    17 Mar
    Matthew Montfort
    26 May
    Dan Montgomery
    06 Oct
    Andrea Motis
    21 Jul
    Ray Obiedo
    10 Mar
    Jayn Pettingill
    17 Nov
    John Pizzarelli
    25 Aug
    Sandi Poindexter
    24 Mar
    Don Randi
    20 Oct
    David Rogers
    24 Feb
    Eric Whittington
    29 Sep
    George Winston
    04 Aug
    Lizz Wright
    09 Jun
    Jason Yeager
    02 Jun