Grammy-winning jazz pianist coming to Rock Island


The Sound Conservatory, 1600 2nd Ave., Rock Island, will host one of the most acclaimed jazz pianists around on Sunday, May 28, at 5:30 p.m.

Polyrhythms (which presents the Third Sunday Jazz Series in the Quad Cities) is presenting the Laurence Hobgood Trio, featuring 63-year-old Laurence Hobgood on piano, Matt Clohesy on bass, and Jared Schonig on drums.

Contemporary virtuoso pianist, collaborator, composer, arranger, producer, educator, Yamaha artist, multiple Grammy nominee and 2010 Grammy winner Hobgood has enjoyed a multi-faceted and dynamic career. Recognized for his dazzling piano technique and his signature style of composing and arranging, he’s been transporting audiences both at home and abroad for over 30 years, according to a Sound Conservatory release.

Sound Conservatory is at 1600 2nd Ave., Rock Island.

Hobgood has performed with his own groups and others at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Ozawa Hall at Tanglewood, the Chicago Symphony Center and Ravinia, Sydney Opera House, London’s Barbican and Queen Elizabeth Halls, as well as the world’s most prestigious jazz festivals including Montreaux, Monterey, Spoleto USA, Newport, Umbria, Montreal, JVC festivals in Paris and Japan and many others.

Hobgood also appeared with Kurt Elling at the 2009 State Dinner given at the White House where President Barack Obama welcomed India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

He began formal classical study in first grade in Dallas, Texas, where his dad was chairman of the Theater Department at Southern Methodist University. When his father accepted the equivalent position at University of Illinois, the family moved to Urbana; this is when Laurence transitioned to studying jazz — and never looked back, according to his bio.

It would be an understatement to say that the jazz/music scene at U. of I. during these formative years was amazingly fertile and had a huge impact on Laurence’s musical direction and philosophy, his bio says.

Highlights include three years in the University of Illinois Jazz Band led by the iconic John Garvey; private classical study with British classical pianist Ian Hobson (from whom Hobgood learned his technical system/approach); study and close friendship with Sicilian-born master 20th-century composer — and ultimately Hobgood’s compositional mentor — Salvatore Martirano; and countless nights at the still renowned Nature’s Table, the jazz club where Hobgood cut his teeth.

The Hobgood trio (including bass and drums) will perform on Sunday, May 28, at 5:30 p.m.

Urbana’s proximity to Chicago led him there in 1988 and he was quickly absorbed into the scene, playing in groups with legendary Chicago musicians such as Von Freeman, Paul Wertico, Ed Peterson, Fareed Haque, Wilbur “the Chief” Campbell and Eddie Johnso,n among others. (It was also there in 1993 where he encountered a young, yet unknown singer named Kurt Elling.) 

Hobgood was awarded three consecutive fellowships (’90, ’91, ’92) to perform in the Aspen Music Festival. The Chicago Tribune honored him as a 1995 Chicagoan Of The Year in the Arts. That same year, Elling’s first CD, Close Your Eyes, released by Blue Note (and which Hobgood produced, played on and wrote for) garnered a Grammy nomination, a pattern which continued with every project Elling released throughout their 18-year collaboration.

Jazz singer Kurt Elling won a 2010 Grammy, with Hobgood as producer.

2009’s Dedicated To You: Kurt Elling Sings The Music Of Coltrane and Hartman, recorded live at Lincoln Center, won the 2010 Grammy Award for Best Vocal Jazz Record, with Hobgood receiving one of the coveted statues for his work as producer. 

In 2003, Hobgood received ASCAP’s Deems Taylor Award, given for outstanding music journalism, for his article ‘The Art Of The Trio’ published by JazzTimes magazine. 

His 2007 CD When The Heart Dances (Naim), a duet recording with iconic bassist Charlie Haden, has received worldwide critical acclaim, garnering 4-star reviews from Downbeat and the UK’s Mojo magazine among others.  From the Mojo review:

“Alert listeners have known for years that Kurt Elling’s long-time accompanist- collaborator Hobgood is one of the best pianists of his generation. He’s joined here by bass legend Charlie Haden on a sumptuous, elegiac set of duets, beautifully played.”

Hobgood last played in the Quad Cities in March 2017.

Hobgood’s February 2012 release, PoemJazz (Circumstantial), is an adventurous collaboration with poet Robert Pinsky, the only three-term U.S. Poet Laureate. It features Pinsky’s energetic readings of his poems, with an emphasis on musical phrasing rather than dramatic phrasing, coupled with Hobgood’s engaging, thematic improvised accompaniment, played live in studio simultaneous with Pinsky’s recitations.

Hobgood’s 2013 release Christmas (Circumstantial) was chosen by both the New York Times and the Chicago Tribune as one of the top Holiday CDs of the year. In the New York Times, Nate Chinen wrote: “For most of this beautifully recorded album, he’s alone at the piano, unspooling solemn reveries after the example of his north star, Keith Jarrett.”

You can see samples of his playing on Hobgood’s website HERE.

On Sunday at Sound Conservatory, you can enjoy the mastery of Laurence Hobgood’s trio while indulging in wine and charcuterie for sale by Rock Island’s own Skylight Luxury Lounge.

The event is part of a new Sound Conservatory Summer Concert Series, which began with a May 5 program with pianist Perry Mears, flutist Paul Mizzi, clarinetist Rob Miller and bassoonist Kian Hyatt.

Other upcoming concerts are:

  • June 10, 5:30 p.m.: PAK Trio – Paul Mizzi, flute; Andrzej Kozlowski, piano, and Kian Hyatt, bassoon.
  • July 1, 6:30 p.m.: Multi Grammy-winning trumpeter John Daversa and acclaimed jazz pianist Tal Cohen.
  • Aug. 20, 6:30 p.m.: Pianist Andrzej Kozlowski – Chopin and His Life.

Tickets for Laurence Hobgood are $25 each, available online HERE.

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