LA Jazz Scene Scott Yanow
From the files of A Deeper Groove. Perception And Perspective®™, this is... SONG RINGING OUT TRUTH Thoughts on vibraphonist Jay Hoggard. by Michael F. Hopkins © All rights reserved Since his recording debut in the 1970s, vibraphonist Jay Hoggard has proven a game champion of Music. His Jazz is impeccable, running a daring gamut from solo performance to ensemble explorations,from swing and bop to straight-ahead romp and beyond. His forays into Gospel are awe-inspiring as they are refreshing; appealing to open minds & hearts while devoid of stiff-necked dogma.  Likewise for Hoggard’s grasp of Jazz legacy, eschewing the rigid but hyper-publicized fundamentalism that obscured the idiom’s artistry during the 1980s in particular. Hoggard’s reach is extensive, full of down-home groove and essential jam, balladry as evocative as the paths he forges to get there.  The roads Jay Hoggard travels these days are more self-determined than ever, largely due to his establishing a CD label of his own. This is JHVM Recordings (take a moment and check  www.jayhoggard.com for details and prices), and it’s a rewarding site for anyone in search of exceptional Music. This label made its debut in 2003 with a memorable landmark entitled The Right Place, and Hoggard has shown no sign of slowing down since.  Recent releases bear the artist’s vitality out with vigor and fortitude. Soular Power features Hoggard’s working unit (pianist/organist James Weidman, bassist Belden Bullock, drummer Yoron Israel) in a crackling-spirited collection of classics (both original and standard), while Christmas Vibes All Thru The year features Hoggard and Weidman with drummer Bruce Cox in a priceless collection of time-honored hymns and newly-offered testimonies to put wings to each listening.Solo From Two Sides features Hoggard in stirring solo performance on both vibraphone and marimba. Quite the treat!!! The vibraphonist’s most recent set, Harlem Hieroglyphs, is a 2-CD travelogue of wonderful song. Here, Hoggard’s working quartet is joined by pianist/organist Nat Adderley Jr. and the ever-inspiring Gary Bartz on alto and soprano saxophones. Standards and originals rise and take flight once this unit comes to play! If I Were A Bell and Everything Must Change take their place alongside resplendent tone portraits such as A Walk Through The Colorful Forest. Sonny Rollins’ Airegin and Duke Ellington’s My Love unveil whole new calibers of majesty, even as Pleasant Memories haunt our senses with delight and promise. Music. Whole, Honest, Beautiful. Jay Hoggard, keeping the culture true.” - Michael Frank Hopkins

— A Deeper Groove. Perception And Perspective®™,

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Sonic Hieroglyphs from Wood, Metal and Skin at the 11th Annual Wesleyan Jazz Orchestra Weekend in Crowell Concert Hall at Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT, on April 28, 2012 at 8:00 pm.http://www.wesleyan.edu/cfa Jay Hoggard, one of the world’s leading vibraphonists, will present the Premiere of his compositional suite Sonic Hieroglyphs from Wood, Metal and Skin at the 11th Annual Wesleyan Jazz Orchestra Weekend in Crowell Concert Hall at Wesleyan University ,Middletown, CT, on April 28, 2012 at 8:00 pm. In this performance, Jay Hoggard’s stellar quartet, with pianist James Weidman, bassist Santi Debriano  and drummer Yoron Israel will be joined by woodwindists Anthony Braxton and  Marty Ehrlich, percussionist Kwaku Kwaakye Martin Obeng,  and harpist Brandee Younger. The first half of the program will  feature Mr. Hoggard's compositions from his JHVM Recordings, Soular Power, Solo From Two Sides, Swing ‘Em Gates and The Right Place (please visit www.jayhoggard.com.). The second half will feature the world premiere of the new suite ,Sonic Hieroglyphs From Wood, Metal, and Skin. This multi part suite is dedicated to the inspiration of the late Nobel  Peace prize recipient from Kenya, Wangari Mathai . Jay Hoggard’s music has touched the hearts and souls of listeners around the world for 35 years. Jay draws on traditional and contemporary musical vocabulary to develop new directions for the vibraphone, seamlessly blending jazz and gospel roots with African marimba rhythms. His performance repertoire represents the three B’s of the jazz tradition (Blues, Bop, Ballads) with original innovations. Jay has recorded 21 CDs as a leader, including the recent Solo from Two Sides, Soular Power, Swing Em Gates, The Right Place, and Songs of Spiritual Love.  The son of a Bishop in the African Methodist Episcopal Zion (AME Zion) Church, he was born in Washington, DC and reared in Mt. Vernon, NY. At age 15, Jay began playing the vibraphone. “One night I had a dream that I was playing the vibes. I asked my father to rent me a set and from the first moment, I knew that this was what I was supposed to do.” Jay majored in the World Music program at Wesleyan University and toured Europe and played at Carnegie Hall during his freshman year. In his junior year, he traveled to Tanzania to study East African xylophone music. He graduated in 1976 and returned to New York in 1977 to be proclaimed a young lion on the vibraphone. Since then, Jay Hoggard has performed in major venues, jazz festivals, colleges, universities, churches, galleries, libraries, and clubs around the globe. Jay has been featured on radio and television nationally and internationally. He led a quintet on an extensive tour sponsored by the United States government to  North Africa, the Middle East and India. Jay performed in special concert collaborations with vibraphone masters Lionel Hampton, Milt Jackson, Tito Puente and Bobby Hutcherson. He has recorded and toured with creative artists such as Kenny Burrell, Dr. Billy Taylor, Max Roach, James Newton, Hilton Ruiz, Oliver Lake, Bennie Maupin, Bill Cosby, Sam Rivers, Anthony Braxton, Jorge Dalto, Terumasa Hino, Dwight Andrews, Geri Allen, Anthony Davis, Henry Threadgill, Vishnu Wood, Chico Freeman, Muhal Richard Abrams , Sherry Winston, Ahmed Abdullah, and was a guest artist with the Dizzy Gillespie Big Band. Jay has accompanied singers, instrumentalists, and poets and has performed with gospel, theater, dance, percussion, and orchestral ensembles. In 2009, Jay Hoggard was commissioned by the Sankofa Kuumba Dance Consortium and the Hartford Symphony Orchestra to compose THE OTHER SIDE OF THE OCEAN and LET ME MAKE IT CLEAR. Previously, Jay collaborated with Denver based choreographer Cleo Parker Robinson by composing THE WISDOM OF THE BAOBAB TREE commissioned by Lincoln Center Out of Doors. He was commissioned by the Hartford Festival of Jazz to compose LA TIERRA HERMOSA, dedicated to Tito Puente. In 2000, Hoggard was commissioned by Wesleyan University to compose JOYFUL SWAMP and CROSSING POINT for Max Roach and percussion ensemble, and VIBARIMBALA for symphonic and jazz orchestras. Jay Hoggard is currently a professor of music at Wesleyan University, where for the past 22 years he has directed the Wesleyan Jazz Orchestra and has taught and mentored hundreds of young musicians. ”

— Sonic Hieroglyphs Crowell Hall Wesleyan University

Review: Jay Hoggard and the Sonic Hieroglyphs Ensemble May. 2, 2012 by Jack Chelgren Jack Chelgren ’15 attended the Jay Hoggard Quartet concert as part of the 11th annual Wesleyan Jazz Orchestra Weekend, and reflects on his impressions. Last Saturday night, vibraphonist, composer, and Adjunct Professor of Music Jay Hoggard gave a concert that found Crowell Concert Hall more crowded than any performance I have been to all year.  The room was unambiguously packed, inundated with a healthy blend of students, families, friends, faculty, and a host of others scarcely connected to Wesleyan beyond their interest in the performance.  A student combo of musicians from the Wesleyan Jazz Orchestra (which Mr. Hoggard directs) opened the show, playing faithful but lively renditions of standards by Dizzy Gillespie, Duke Jordan, and Sonny Rollins.  There was a short lull, and then Mr. Hoggard’s band took the stage, the man himself with a theatrical strut, sporting an ultramarine suit and a flashy silver vest.  Silence reigned after the initial applause had died down and the band readied its gear; you could hear people fidgeting in their seats as Mr. Hoggard took out his glasses case and slipped his spectacles inside.  Then he glanced up at the audience, as if just realizing we were there.  “Thank you, and goodnight,” he said flatly, and the ensuing chuckles broke the ice. The group opened with “Swing Em Gates,” a bluesy, up-tempo chart Mr. Hoggard wrote for Lionel Hampton, one of the most significant voices in big band and an early pioneer of jazz vibraphone.  Mr. Hoggard shared the melody with Marty Ehrlich, who played soprano saxophone, and each member of the group improvised.  “Overview” followed, a slower, more expansive piece for which Mr. Ehrlich switched to bass clarinet and delivered one of his best solos of the night, a dextrous, well-crafted display that showcased his rich, vivid tone on the instrument.  The next song, “Joyful Swamp,” brought out harpist Brandee Younger and hand percussionist Kwaku Kwaakye Obeng, kicking off at a breakneck pace with a scurrying marimba and percussion intro before dropping into its slinky, meandering melody, again in the vibes and soprano.  This piece, Mr. Hoggard revealed, he wrote for another jazz great, the monumental drummer Max Roach.  Next came “Soular Power,” an off-kilter, lilting tune that smacked heavily of Dave Holland’s quintet work with vibraphonist Steve Nelson.  This, in turn, was followed by “You’re In My Heart All the Time,” a duet for piano and vibes and the most candidly gorgeous piece of the evening.  The song had a stunningly spontaneous quality, floating in the air like a cloud between the performers, who, though not rhythmically or melodically in sync with one another, played with an astounding understanding and singularity of purpose.  The subsequent medley “The Right Place / Lessons from My Dad” gamboled from a nostalgic, shimmering opening into a desolate solo by bassist Santi Debriano, whose hoarsely melancholic tone recalled the throatier, more progressive side of cellist Erik Friedlander, before giving way to yet another sinuous groove led by the soprano and vibes.  “Convergence of the Niles” closed the first half of the show, a driving McCoy Tyner-esque bop on which Mr. Hoggard let loose with a fiery solo, pulling farther and farther away from the stormy rhythmic and harmonic structures of the song without for a second coming unmoored. The group was joined by one last guest for the shorter second half of the concert, saxophonist-composer and Professor of Music Anthony Braxton, who kicked off the song “Piety and Redemption” with a soprano sax solo of his own, lashing out flurries of thirty-second notes and blur-like glissandi. Mr. Hoggard then lead the group into the world premiere of his multi-part composition Sonic Hieroglyphs From Wood, Metal, and Skin, the title of which sounds like a cross between Sun Ra and a Fluxus score.  The group played only three of its four movements, beginning with the brightly optimistic “Let Me Make It Clear (We Need Nuclear Peace This Year)” before proceeding into “Live, Breath”—a serenely open piece with brooding and dissonant undertones which featured qigong artists performing onstage alongside the musicians—and then finally to “The Mutilation of Our Mother, Earth, by Perpetual War and DISPOSABLE CONSUMPTION,” a jaggedly collapsing tune à la Michael Formanek. It was, in all, a highly memorable evening.  There were times when I wished the orchestration had been a little lighter—it could have been the room or where I sat in it, but the ensemble sound often felt rather cluttered and muddy.  I also noticed that communication among the musicians often seemed a little disjointed.  Mr. Hoggard would frequently look up to cue transitions or solos and have to struggle to get the rest of the band’s attention.  Yet the group held together nicely through these rough patches, in large part thanks to the indefatigable rhythm section of Yoron Israel, Mr. Debriano, and Mr. Obeng, giving a show at once through-provokingly erudite and fundamentally accessible. ” - Jack Chelgren

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JHVM LABEL RELEASES FIVE JAY HOGGARD RECORDINGS! by Scott Yanow A very significant vibraphonist for for over 30 years, Jay Hoggard has long ranked with the greatest innovators of his instrument including Lionel Hampton, Red Norvo, Milt Jackson, Terry Gibbs, Bobby Hutcherson, Gary Burton, Khan Jamal and Walt Dickerson, as well as his contemporaries Steve Nelson, Joe Locke, and Stefon Harris. The release of five of his CDs, including SOULAR POWER and SOLO FROM TWO SIDES, gives listeners an opportunity to experience some of the many sides of this vital musician, and they document the vibraphonist's musical language during the first ten years of the 21st century. This is a major event! Jay Hoggard, who was born in Washington D.C.,grew up in a religious family in Mt Vernon, New York. He began playing the vibraphone when he was 15. At Wesleyan University in Connecticut he studied in the World Music program including traveling to Tanzania to study firsthand East African xylophone music. Soon after he graduated in 1976, Jay was recognized as an increasingly important force on his instrument, able to display his own voice in settings ranging from the avant-garde to swing, from unaccompanied solo performances to work with a wide variety of all-star performers. While his work was well documented in the late 1970s, '80s and '90s, by 2003 Jay Hoggard came to the conclusion that it was time for him to own his own music and take charge of documenting his musical dreams. “By then it had become a lot less expensive to make one's own records,” says the vibraphonist. “With the collapse of the record industry, it made perfect sense to have my own label.” Adding to the logic was that Hoggard had stored up many fresh ideas and concepts that deserved to be recorded. Jay Hoggard's current working band is documented on SOULAR POWER (2008),an exciting release consisting of 11 of his original compositions plus “On A Clear Day.” With James Weidman, Belden Bullock and drummer Yoron Israel inspiring him, Hoggard stakes his claim as one of the major vibraphonists of today, performing music that is full of subtle surprises, covers a wide range of moods, and is never predictable. Among the many highlights are the forceful post bop of “Soular Power,” the touching ballad “You're In My Heart All The Time,” the soulful “Blues Bags,” a catchy boogaloo “Sweet Potato” and the driving “Mystic Winds/Tropic Breezes.” Jay really stretches himself during a set that has the feel of a live recording. The same can be said for the frequently-stunning SOLO FROM TWO SIDES (2009). Performing unaccompanied on vibraphone and marimba, Jay Hoggard creates music that is hypnotic, intriguing, melodic, thoughtful, surprising and thoroughly original. While a handful of vibraphonists have recorded solo sets in the past (including Gary Burton, Khan Jamal and Walt Dickerson), none have sounded like this. There are many rich melodies (“Kalila's Smile” and “Riverside Dance”are two strong examples), pieces that display the African heritage (“Ujamaa”,"The Golden Ashanti", and “Rain Forest”) and new spirituals such as “In The Spirit” and “Worship God In Spirit, Truth And Love.” Each of the 13 selections is memorable in its own way. But that is to be expected for Jay Hoggard has developed his own personal voice, both as an improviser and as a composer. SWING EM GATES (2007) is a tribute to Lionel Hampton which, although featuring some of the songs that Hampton made famous (including “Flying Home,” “Memories Of You” and “Air Mail Special”), finds Jay Hoggard sounding very much like himself. “I crossed paths with Lionel Hampton on a few occasions early in my career including sharing the stage during an all-star concert. He was always very encouraging and inspiring to me, telling me to always be myself in my playing.” So close was their relationship that, when Hampton was ailing later in his career, Hoggard often substituted for him. Swing 'Em Gates has Jay Hoggard swinging his way through standards with the assistance of a trio that on three songs includes the legendary pianist Dr. Billy Taylor. SONGS OF SPIRITUAL LOVE (2004) is a set of vibraphone-organ/piano duets by Hoggard and James Weidman in which they explore the African American sacred musical vocabulary. “Since I grew up in the Afican Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, I am hard wired for these melodies which are second nature for me.” The emotional versions of such songs as “Lift Every Voice And Sing,” John Coltrane's “Dear Lord,” “His Eye Is On The Sparrow,” and “The Lord's Prayer” are very respectful but also full of exciting melodic improvisations. Especially memorable is a rendition of Hoggard's best known melody, “God Will Guide.” The earliest of the JHVM releases is THE RIGHT PLACE (2003). Featured with his quintet (the late pianist Hilton Ruiz or James Weidman on piano and organ, bassist Belden Bullock, drummer Pheeroan akLaff and Dwight Andrews on reeds) plus both Kwaku Kwaakye Obeng and Asher DeLerme on percussion, Hoggard performs nine of his originals plus Ruiz' “Guataca.” Highlights include such gems as the upbeat “The Right Place,” the Mid-Eastern feel of “ Joyful Swamp ,” “Startin The Blues En Clave,” the mysterious “Crossing Point,” and the heartfelt “Lessons From My Dad.” Also of strong interest is SOMETHING "BOUT BELIEVING, a 1999 CD put out by the Twinz Records label and made available from JHVM that features Hoggard (along with Weidman, Bullock and akLaff) performing Duke Ellington's sacred music including “Come Sunday,” “The Shepherd” and “Heaven.” Back in 1967 the youngster accompanied his father to one of Ellington's sacred concerts and the performances changed his life, inspiring him to become a musician and ultimately a major vibraphonist. The release of these diverse but consistently rewarding CDs are a major event in 21st century jazz. Not only do they feature Jay Hoggard at the peak of his powers, but they add rich melodies and superb vibraphone solos to the legacy of jazz. For more information about the Jay Hoggard or his recordings, contact Carolyn McClair Public Relations at carolynmcclairpr@aol.com or www.jayhoggard.com.” - By Scott Yanow 2-1-10

— JHVM LABEL RELEASES FIVE JAY HOGGARD RECORDINGS!

THE RIGHT PLACE: ELOQUENT, EXPLOSIVE , EPIC. A WONDERFUL PRESENTATION (by Michael F. Hopkins, c. 2007) For the deeply spirited Jay Hoggard, this special album is a signature statement in a distinguished career filled with many such bright moments. This, however, is even more. THE RIGHT PLACE bears the burning urgency of a master artist taking charge of his expression, a musician of great Faith and touching Joy making the most joyful of noises to uplift the heart and the mind. The debut album for the vibraphone master's own JHVM Recordings, THE RIGHT PLACE sings and swings with gleeful authority bearing a calm, winning impact. A rhapsodic travelog of the Black aesthetic at its globespanning finest, Hoggard and friends weave a potent dance which takes us from tropic mist and sprawling veldt, through the challenge of urban prance and the finely measured breath of coming Home. The malleteer is joined by stalwart colleagues here. The multifaceted Dwight Andrews is outstanding on reeds and flute, as Belden Bullock on bass provides a splendid discourse in the art of finger-talking. Legendary pianist Hilton Ruiz can be heard on a delightful tear, as percussion wonder Pheeroan AkLaff makes tempo-juggling merry amidst a team of percussion wizards (Kwaku Kwaakye Obeng on donno and congas, Asher De Lerme on timbales, bata and guiro). The ever-ready, always steady James Weidman kindles a hearty flame on piano and organ, a persistent excellence which always makes his work stand out with conviction. Engineer Alec Head delivers the whole sound of this bountiful music with exceptional care and heightened grace. Through compositional talespinning, playful daring and a determined focus which is second to none, the vibraphonist radiates the sheer fun and precious need of creativity as a human calling. Too, with reflections upon the work of Tito Puente as well as Bobby Hutcherson, Hoggard's own nimble malletry strikes resonant summons from the marimba, stirring Sun to rise and twilight to prepare devout enchantment to fortify the soul.. JHVM Recordings mark a fresh chapter in the ongoing tale of a great artist. SONGS OF SPIRITUAL LOVE and SWING 'EM GATES show the malleteer's vision and drive to be as powerful and magnificent as ever. Meanwhile, from 2003, discover the intimate might and majesty of this master musician, and thrill in this landmark statement of cultural splendor. Enjoy the loving welcome of THE RIGHT PLACE.” - By Michael F. Hopkins

— "A Deeper Groove" Buffalo, NY