Vibraphonist Jay Hoggard has appeared with everyone from Cecil Taylor to Luther Vandross in an eclectic career that's included forays into avant-garde, mainstream and pop jazz. His new release comfortably combines elements of all of the above while adding a healthy dose of his passion for Afro-Caribbean music.
The Right Place , which Hoggard dedicates to his parents, is a mostly upbeat affair filled with simple, accessible melodies backed by more intricate Latin and African rhythms. Hoggard, a music professor at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, has assembled a fine septet here, including pianist/organist James Weidman, Dwight Andrews on woodwinds, Belden Bullock on bass, and a trio of drummers and percussionists.
The selections, all but one penned by Hoggard, range from the light, pleasantly pop-ish title tune to a Coltrane-esque exploration on "Inner Rhythm" to an impressive, though brief, workout for Hoggard on solo marimba. Most compelling are four songs in the middle of the album featuring the superb Latin jazz/bebop pianist Hilton Ruiz, including "Startin' the Blues en Clave", which exemplifies Hoggard's goal of exploring the shared paths of African American and Caribbean music.
For all the diverse elements that go into the mix here, there's a cohesiveness and ease to the proceedings that makes it all come together smoothly and makes Jay Hoggard's The Right Place a good place to be.