Laurence Hobgood: tesseterra
Laurence’s next recording, tesseterra, is “in the can” (a term we still use even though there’s no longer a “can”.) Recorded in New York last Fall (2017), this project has been 4 1/2 years in the making — meaning the writing: intricate re-imaginings of iconic song repertoire scored for trio (piano/bass/drums) and string quartet.
Titles as diverse as Wichita Lineman, Blackbird, Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic, We Shall Overcome — even a Chopin Waltz (Opus 64 no. 2 in C#Minor), all vividly arranged in a style we’re calling “third stream nouveau” — the sound of the string quartet brings a definite classical element to this project, but the central idea is for the trio to shine as a fully functioning jazz trio, weaving improvisatory exploration within the fabric of thoroughly composed orchestrations.
The words “weaving” and “fabric” are quite intentional; the word “tesseterra” is Laurence’s invention, and translates roughly as “the sonic fabric of the world.” It’s an amalgam of tessitura and terra. Terra is latin for ‘earth’; ‘tessitura’ means ‘texture’ in Italian but musically refers to the most favorable portion of a voice’s (or instrument’s) overall range. So perhaps an even more accurate definition would be “the world’s most pleasing musical textures.”
Inevitably part of tesseterra’s proposition is that, in an important sense, “jazz improvisation” is less about what’s being played but more about how it’s being played.
Just as Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and others adapted the great popular songs of Gershwin, Cole Porter, Jerome Kern, etc., into jazz of the bebop era, modern jazz players have begun to do the same: bringing the amazing songwriting of artists like Stevie Wonder, Paul McCartney, Carole King, Burt Bacharach, Sting, etc., into the jazz canon.
The recording features Laurence’s regular trio (drummer Jared Schonig and bassist Matthew Clohesy) and the amazing string quartet, ETHEL (Ralph Farris/viola, Dorothy Lawson/cello, Kip Jones and Corin Lee/violin.) It will be released in February/March of 2019 on the Ubuntu label.