POEMJAZZ features renowned poet ROBERT PINSKY and Grammy-winning jazz pianist LAURENCE HOBGOOD. This collaboration treats a voice speaking poetry as having a role like that of a horn: speech with its own poetic melody and rhythm, in conversation with what the music is doing. To put it simply, POEMJAZZ is a conversation between the sounds of poetry and music. POEMJAZZ was just recorded by Robert Pinsky and Laurence Hobgood on the Circumstantial Productions label.
Robert Pinsky, the only three-term United States Poet Laureate, brings an innovative energy to all he does. In 2011, his acclaimed Selected Poems appeared. In 2010, his libretto for Tod Machover’s opera Death and the Powers: A Robot Pageant premiered in Monaco before coming to Boston’s ART. Next year, his adaptation of Friedrich Schiller’s Wallenstein will be presented by the Shakespeare Theater of Washington, D.C.
As Poet Laureate, he founded the Favorite Poem Project, in which thousands of Americans — of varying backgrounds, all ages, from every state — shared their favorite poems, as documented by the video segments, as seen on PBS and now at www.favoritepoem.org.
Connecting all of these projects is Pinsky’s conviction—clear to anyone who has heard him read a poem— that poetry is a vocal, bodily art, closely allied to music. For that reason, POEMJAZZ, his collaboration with Laurence Hobgood, expresses something at the core of Robert Pinsky’s art.
“In jazz, as in poetry,” Robert Pinsky told The Paris Review in an interview, “there is always that play between what’s regular and what’s wild. That has always appealed to me.”
Best known for his collaboration with vocalist Kurt Elling, multiple Grammy-nominee and 2010 Grammy-winner Laurence Hobgood has enjoyed a multi-faceted and dynamic career. Musical Director for Elling since 1995, he’s played on, composed, arranged and co-produced all of Elling’s CDs (six for Blue Note and three for Concord), each Grammy-nominated. 2009’s Dedicated To You: Kurt Elling Sings The Music Of Coltrane and Hartman, recorded live at Lincoln Center, won the 2010 Grammy Award for Best Vocal Jazz Record. In 1993, Hobgood met Kurt Elling and began a collaboration that resulted in Elling’s signing with the storied Blue Note label, with Hobgood as his co-producer and musical director. The two became great friends and were named 1995 Chicagoans of The Year in the Arts by the Chicago Tribune.
In 1996, Hobgood joined with Paul Wertico and bassist Brian Torff to form a new trio called Union, which released two CDs on the Naim label. Since then he has found time, amidst almost constant touring, writing and recording projects with Elling, to record three further headlining projects for Naim.
And Elling’s third Concord CD, The Gate, co-produced by Elling and Hobgood with music legend Don Was, has received a 2012 Grammy nomination for “Best Vocal Jazz Album.”
PRESENTED IN ASSOCIATION WITH THE STEVEN BARCLAY AGENCY
photos by Eric Antoniou