's long-time pianist, Laurence Hobgood, is no stranger to leading a recording session. He has released four previous recordings on Naim Jazz in the last 10 years. He is a durable pianist, a bit of a cross between Red Garland
's We Couldn't Agree More (Origin Records, 2009). The format provides the most intimate of environments in which to play. The pairing of Hobgood and Haden is an inspired one. The two have a synergy that is oak-organic and diamond hard.
The Doris Day ditty "Que Sera Sera" gets Hobgood's attention and is turned into a deep improvisation where the melody is almost nowhere to be found, like Charlie Parker
's Free Jazz (Atlantic, 1961) to Quartet West. Haden is beyond flash; he is about distillation of tone and ideas.
Hobgood shows his entire hand on the solo original "Sanctuary." Here, instead of improvising from a standard or jazz composition, Hobgood creates an American palette that is a cross between piano gospel and New Age. Elements of these are present in all pieces but are fully realized here. The Elling recitals"First Song," "Stairway to the Stars" and "Daydream"receive a subdued treatment from Elling, who sings them straight with his deep, resonant voice. There is little fault with this quirky, beautiful recording that is delightfully off the beaten path.
Track Listing: Que Sera Sera; When The Heart Dances; First Song; Sanctuary; Chickoree; Stairway To The Stars; New Orleans; Why Did I Choose You; Leatherwood; Daydream; The Cost of Living.
Personnel: Laurence Hobgood: piano; Charlie Haden: double-bass; Kurt Elling: vocals.