Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians

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Hobgood, Laurence (Bishop)

Hobgood, Laurence (Bishop), piano; b. Salisbury, N.C., 23 December 1959. Although several years were spent in Ithaca, NY, he really grew up in Dallas, TX then moved to Urbana, IL 1975 and finished growing up there. His father, Burnet Mclean Hobgood, was born June 23, 1922 in village of Lotumbe, Belgian Congo. He died Dec. 11, 2000 in Urbana, IL. He was not a musician, although he did play the violin as a boy, but he was a very famous theater teacher, director, and scholar. Probably his most famous pupil, actress Kathy Bates, played Laruence's nurse in a play titled "The Cavern" when Laurence was 6 and she was an undergrad. His mother is Jane Bishop Hobgood, born January 16, 1929 in Oak Park, IL. She's a singer, dancer, and Appalachian folk artist. His siblings are Cali Hobgood Lemme, born December 28, 1962 in Ithaca, NY and Brent Mclean Hobgood, born May 19, 1967 in Dallas, TX.

During three years of high school in Urbana he did some jazz study with a university. faculty member but it was not constructive. His two most notable teachers were in Dallas from 1968-75, studied with Dorothy Brin Crocker and while attending the University of Illinois, he studied with classical virtuoso Ian Hobson 1978-80.
Hobgood began formal piano study at age 6 in the preparatory program of the Southern Methodist University School of Music in Dallas, TX, where his father was chairman of the theater program. Through all his classical study a strong inclination toward improvisation was evident.

As he entered his teens he had the opportunity, through his family's church, to discover blues music; it was not until moving to Illinois, however, that he encountered instruction in jazz. While attending Urbana High School he began private study, learning the rudiments of jazz theory. By the time he entered the University of Illinois School of Music, his attention had been captured by small ensemble jazz, although his continued classical study with Ian Hobson proved pivotal in his technical development. Playing in several of the U. of I. jazz bands, he eventually enjoyed a three year tenure in the #1 band led by John Garvey. His remaining time in Urbana/Champaign was spent leading a trio and intensifying his focus on composition, studying with Salvatore Martirano. In 1987 his duet with saxophonist Karel Lidral placed in the national semi-finals of the Cognac Hennessy Jazz Search competition.

Hobgood moved to Chicago in 1988. In 1990 he formed a quintet to perform his original work. During the same period Hobgood was invited to join another quintet being assembled by bassist Eric Hochberg which included drummer Paul Wertico, multiple Grammy Award winner for his work with guitarist Pat Metheny. 
Hobgood was awarded three consecutive fellowships from the Music Associates of Aspen to perform in the Aspen Music Festival's resident jazz ensemble during the festival's 1990, '91, and '92 seasons. There he performed with Bob Mintzer, Gary Burton, Eddie Daniels, Mark Whitfield, Harvie Swartz, Claudio Roditi and Sheila Jordan among others.

 In 1993 he began a collaboration with vocalist Kurt Elling. In 1994 Hobgood produced, composed and arranged for, and played on Elling's demo, released by Blue Note as "Close Your Eyes", the first of Elling's Grammy-nominated albums .Since then the Laurence Hobgood Trio has performed with Elling in Europe, Scandinavia, South America, Japan, Australia, Canada, Israel and the U.S. , including two concerts at Carnegie Hall, multiple performances at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, appearances at major festivals like Newport, Spoleto (USA), Mount Hood, Ravinia, and the Chicago Jazz Festival.
 Hobgood was recognized by the Chicago Tribune as a 1995 Chicagoan of the Year in the Arts. In August of 1996 the television newsmagazine CBS News Sunday Morning aired a segment featuring Hobgood and Elling "jamming" with Dave Brubeck at Brubeck's home.Also in 1996 Hobgood formed a new trio, Union,  with Wertico and Brian Torff ( bassist for George Shearing, Marian Macpartland, Stephane Grapelli). In the next three years they released two recordings, each of which won spots on both the Chicago Tribune's and Sun-Times' listings of the top ten jazz recordings of their respective years (1997 and '99). Union also performed concerts at the Kennedy Center and Chicago's Steppenwolf Theater.

On May 1, 1999, Hobgood debuted an original work, titled "In Your Own Way Suite" and dedicated to Dave Brubeck, with the chamber orchestra Sinfonia da Camera, conducted by Ian Hobson. Hobgood was subsequently commissioned to compose original works for Chicago's millennium celebration and to arrange music for a New York Shakespeare Festival production of "Measure for Measure". His ongoing collaboration with Elling has resulted in Grammy nominations for each of the singer's Blue Note releases. In 2001 Hobgood received his own Grammy nomination for "Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying a Vocal Performance" for his work on the singer's fifth record, "Flirting With Twilight".

In 2002 Hobgood joined the faculty of the music conservatory of Chicago's Roosevelt University/Chicago College of the Performing Arts. Also, JazzTimes magazine published an article by Hobgood, in its June issue, about the influence of Keith Jarrett on the modern jazz trio.

In addition to those already mentioned Hobgood has played/recorded with Larry Coryell, Lee Konitz, Jon Hendricks, Peter Erskine, Marc Johnson, Bob Sheppard, Mark Murphy, Rebecca Paris, Willie Jones III, Adam Nussbaum, Victor Lewis, Clark Terry, Jeff Clayton, Essiet Essiet, Ndugu (Leon Chancellor), Tony Dumas, Ralph Penland, Von Freeman, Kahil el Zabar, Howard Levy, Ed Peterson, Howie Smith, Bobby Lewis, Eden Atwood, and Kevin Mahogany.

R.J. DeLuke, Wait For It ... Here Comes Mr. Hobgood (allaboutjazz.com)

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