“Hobgood is continually pulling rabbits out of hats, getting me to re-think and re-feel songs I’ve heard thousands of times, shining a light on hidden structure and interplays I had never noticed before,” according to Dr Daniel J. Levitin who wrote the million selling This is Your Brain on Music.
The latest “rabbits” on pianist composer Laurence Hobgood’s upcoming jazz trio + strings album Tesseterra, more than four years in the making according to issuing label Ubuntu, include ‘Wichita Lineman’, ‘Blackbird’, and ‘We Shall Overcome’ among the instantly familiar repertoire he tackles.
The recording features pianist composer Hobgood famed for his work with Kurt Elling and Charlie Haden alongside bassist Matthew Clohesy and drummer Jared Schonig + the ETHEL string quartet.
In an video issued to promote the project Hobgood says the process involved: “Writing for jazz trio and string quartet where we take songs that everybody knows, iconic songs and rework them in thoroughly fleshed out and imaginative ways that are intended to delight and suspend time if possible.” Release date, no exact date has been specified yet, is February/March.
Andreas Varady for Galway jazz festival this autumn
Appearing at the Galway Jazz Festival this autumn... flashback to 2014 and one of the most remarkable albums of that year Andreas Varady begins with the Dan’s ‘Do It Again,’ the extraordinary teenage guitarist Andreas Varady, made his major label debut here, in the zone from the get-go. Mellow early Benson-esque flow Varady demonstrated that he was not just an old soul.
Of Hungarian gypsy descent, Andreas was raised in Slovakia and with his family moved to Ireland settling in Limerick in 2007. Mentored and recorded early on by Irish jazz drummer David Lyttle, Varady in a scenario like something out of a film except that it’s a true story is now managed by Quincy Jones. Second track, Lennon and McCartney’s ‘Come Together’, is done fast with a strong organ flavour jam band style treatment, with rampaging organ bass pedal work, Varady opening up. David Paich known for his work with Toto produced Andreas Varady, while Herbie Hancock keyboardist Greg Phillinganes, bassist Brian Bromberg, percussionist Paulinho da Costa, as well as drummers Harvey Mason and Dave Weckl, are among those appearing in the album’s collective personnel. ‘Human Nature’, the tune Miles Davis brought into jazz via Michael Jackson, has a commercial sound to it that doesn’t quite hit the mark, maybe the tune has just been done too much lately. ‘Baby’, the Justin Bieber hit here with a vocal featuring Swedish band Dirty Loops, is more interesting, while the sumptuous ballad ‘Secret Garden’ leads off with Roy Hargrove’s muted trumpet Varady on his solo, mature beyond his years on his tender interpretation, melding with a vocal from R&B singer Kevin Ross.
The very up-tempo ‘A Day In New York’ with a high beats per minute count, almost like a house beat, has skittering trumpet flavouring at the beginning then Varady slams in. The Fender Rhodes keyboards solo that follows is a nice touch bringing the tempo down a little before Varady solos. There’s lots of playing here, chorus after chorus of modal lines delivered with sheer passion. ‘Don’t Stop The Music’ has a hyper multi-tracked vocal from Nikki Yanofsky with a kind of an Andrews Sisters flavour and party vibe to it. Varady, seen by some as a young Django, interprets ‘Nuages’ very sensitively, the arrangement with piano suits, a big album highlight. ‘California Dreamin’’ has an organic percussive feel to it, and windswept piano backing making use of a strong counter-melody, again Varady showing huge maturity when he solos. Gregory Porter features on the Sam Theard/Fleecie Moore song synonymous with Louis Jordan, ‘Let The Good Times Roll’, done as a loud show stopper. Better though is the poignant ‘After Seven in Beijing’ again Varady showing his tender side. Varady duetting with his dad, on Django’s ‘Swing 42,’ is a lovely way to finish.