Apr 17, 2012
The highlight of the 11th Annual Wesleyan Jazz Orchestra Weekend, (and indeed, the entire New England jazz season) happens on Saturday, April 28, 2012 .Vibraphonist Jay Hoggard will be performing with pianist and organist James Weidman and drummer Yoron Israel, joined by special guests, including Wesleyan Professor of Music and saxophonist Anthony Braxton, percussionist Kwaku Kwaakye Martin Obeng, bassist Santi Debriano, woodwind player Marty Erlich, and harpist Brandee Younger, to perform Mr. Hoggard's compositions. This concert will feature the world premiere of Mr. Hoggard's multi-part suite Sonic Hieroglyphs from Wood, Metal, and Skin, dedicated to the inspiration of Wangari Maathai, the late Nobel Peace Prize recipient from Kenya. It’s rare to have four acknowledged virtuosos – Hoggard, Braxton, Erlich and Younger – on the same stage, much less performing a new piece of performance music.
Hoggard has been an important vibes/marimba player and educator for more than twenty-five years, recording most often with a quartet that has been built around Weidman and Israel. I spoke to him earlier this month about this exciting new piece of music, how he came to take up the vibes, and the state of jazz education today. Click here to listen to the conversation, which includes musical interludes from past Hoggard recordings, including:
Jay Hoggard – “Guataca” from The Right Place. There is always a strong rhythmic element in Hoggard’s recordings, and this CD draws on African and Caribbean sounds. Hoggard plays vibes and marimba, and is joined by Dwight Andrews on sax, Belden Bullock on bass, and a solid percussion section of Pheeron Aklaff, Kwaku Kwaakye Martin Obeng and Asher DeLarme.
Jay Hoggard – “Flying Home” from Swing ‘Em Gates. One of Hoggard’s major influences (after his parents, who were exceptional musicians) was the great Lionel “Gates” Hampton. Hoggard once had the great honor of filling in for the legend with the Hampton band, no doubt wowing the crowd with this classic piece of the Gates repertoire.
Jay Hoggard and James Weidman – “The Lord’s Prayer” from Songs of Spiritual Love. Like so many other African-Americans, Hoggard comes from a church going background, and this simple duet from an album of mostly gospel songs is a moving example of the ethereal facet of the vibes sound.
Jay Hoggard – “The Gold Ashanti” from Solo from Two Sides. Inspired by albums like Bill Evans’ Conversations with Myself, Hoggard double tracked himself with great results on this “solo” CD.
Jay Hoggard – “Convergence of the Niles” from Soular Power. Perhaps the best studio recording of Hoggard’s quartet sound, this Hoggard composition gives plenty of room for Wediman, Belden and Israel to stand out, as well as work in a tight tandem.