Who says universities create an ivory tower mentality? Educator and vibes master Steve Hobbs has put out a delectably enjoyable CD of accessible, yet thought-provoking music. Employing a front line of Tom Harrell (trumpet, flugelhorn), Dave Valentin (flute), and Bob Malach (tenor), his lighter than air thematic statements serve as a perfect foil to the percussive underpinnings of Hobbs and pianist Bill O'Connell.
All of Hobbs' compositions are catchy, memorable, and thoroughly enjoyable. The modal "Blued Swings," with its sophisticated interplay between Valentin and Harrell, is breezy. The lithe and lively melody line of "Spring Cycle" will stay in your mind long after the CD is over. Ditto for "Para Mis Padres," with its lovely and breathy flute melody. The originals by O'Connell are just as well crafted, coherently weaving in the solos as if they were part of the composition.
The driving "Crosswinds," strutting "Marionettes," and rhythm-shifting "Loon Lake" all fit into the mainstream category, with excellently defined solos provided by Harrell and Malach. The only potential indulgence regarding this record relates to the listener, who may want to put it on over and over.
Track Listing: Blued Swings; Spring Cycle; Rough and Ready; Para Mis Padres; On the Street Where You
Live; Jean; Mr. PC; Loon Lake; Crosswinds; Marionettes.
Personnel: Steve Hobbs: vibraphone; Tom Harrell: trumpet, flugelhorn; Bob Malach: tenor saxophone;
Dave Valentin: flute; Bill O'Connell: piano; Peter Washington: bass; John Riley: drums; Steve
I was first exposed to jazz when I was tiny. My earliest memory is watching Ella Fitzgerald scat on a Christmas special when I was no older than four. Like many who are from tiny towns, my first extended exposure was listening to the high school jazz band when I was a kid
I was first exposed to jazz when I was tiny. My earliest memory is watching Ella Fitzgerald scat on a Christmas special when I was no older than four. Like many who are from tiny towns, my first extended exposure was listening to the high school jazz band when I was a kid. For some reason I remember an arrangement of Hey Jude they did. My first real exposure was Stan Kenton in the Smithville, MO high school gym. Kenton and the band director there were old friends, so he would play there from time to time. My dad took me without telling me where we were going and it was the only show he ever took me to. I remember that Bobby Shew played Send In Clowns and I damn near levitated I was so excited. The huge sound and amazing chords floored me. I believe I was 13 at the time. I immediately started practicing and taking lessons. Music became a passion and nearly a career. I also listened to Dick Wright's Jazz Show on KANU every night. I can't even start to explain what I learned lying in bed listening to Dick talk about jazz. I met him once when I was struggling to put together a solo for Joy Spring playing in a combo at KU. Stopped by his office and asked for recommendations. He showed up at my jazz ensemble rehearsal the next day with a tape with example solos. What a kind man Dick Wright was.
My advice to new listeners is to stop worrying about what music is important and focus on music you like. I spent quite a bit of my music life listening to important music I didn't necessarily like. Must say I have quite a bit more fun now listening to music that I deeply enjoy. Some of it is even important.
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