Laurence Hobgood, Honor Thy Fathers
It’s not that Laurence Hobgood was buried during his 18 years as Kurt Elling’s musical director. Indeed, he was one of the most admired supporting pianists in modern music. But last year—evidently with Elling’s encouragement—Hobgood parted ways with the singer and launched his solo career. This album showcases the extent of his mastery. With bassist John Patitucci and drummer Kendrick Scott, Hobgood plays original compositions that include tributes to Bill Evans and Charlie Haden. He works a transformation in 7/4 time of Nat Cole’s “Straighten Up and Fly Right”, takes Stevie Wonder’s leisurely “If It’s Magic” at a brisk clip and makes the standard “Give Me the Simple Life” a three-way conversation with Patitucci and Scott. Hobgood dedicates the album to his own late father and to musical father figures Evans and Oscar Peterson.