Jay Hoggard vibraphone / James Weidman piano
At times such as these, when the news headlines and accompanying photographs are so shocking, people often turn to religion to help them through. Some of us turn to spiritual music for solace and/or meditation.
Vibraphonist and Wesleyan Professor Jay Hoggard has teamed up with his good friend and keyboard artist James Weidman for a new recording. Titled "Songs of Spiritual Love" and released on Hoggard's JHVM label, it's a collection of African American spirituals and popular songs that are played straight from the heart and soul of the duo. Opening with a lovely rendition of "Lift Every Voice and Sing", the disk is a joy from beginning to end. Whether it's the sanctified soul of "Bridge Over Troubled Water" or the bluesy cry of "God Bless The Child", these songs are meant to soothe the troubled soul.
Nothing is rushed and nothing is clichéd. Even the Bachrach/David chestnut "What the World Needs Now is Love" is performed with grace and caring. Perhaps it's the bell-like tones of the vibraphone or the rich chordal background of the acoustic piano, but the music just soars. When Weidman switches to organ, one feels as if they're in the front pew.
It's rare when two fine improvisers get together and pay more attention to melody than to their "chops." There are certainly moments when they let loose ("I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free" for instance) but I believe that Hoggard and Weidman feel that their audience knows the words to many of these songs and will have an emotional reaction to these renditions. There is no proselytizing by the artists, just music from the heart and the soul and what a joyful sound they make. For more information, go to www.wesleyan.edu/~jhoggard... Richard Kamins, Hartford Courant 1- 6-05
Noted journalist Owen McNally wrote "Jay Hoggard's artistry has a universal quality, an intellectual and emotional resiliency that makes it seem very much at home when creating something new and fresh in every genre from the roots of African music to the outer reaches of the blues ....He is not just one of the premier voices on vibraphone but also one of the top-seeded instrumentalists and composers of the jazz world today."
Jay Hoggard's performances, compositions, and recordings have touched the hearts and souls of listeners in America, Africa, the Caribbean, South America, Europe, and Asia for the past 25 years. For the past 14 years Jay has been director of the Wesleyan University Jazz Orchestra, where he has taught hundreds of students.
Jay Hoggard's recordings reflect the breadth of his musical vision: solo and ensemble; acoustic and electric; original compositions and standard tunes. Jay's performance repertoire includes the vocabulary of the jazz tradition (Blues, Ballads, Bop) along with original innovations. He has recorded 16 CD's as a leader and over 50 as a collaborator. Jay Hoggard's Fall 2004 release, Songs of Spiritual Love, is a duo recording of sacred music with pianist / organist James Weidman. Jay's Fall 2003 release ,The Right Place, features vibraphone, marimba, woodwinds, keyboard, bass, and percussion embracing jazz improvisation with African and Caribbean rhythms. Recent sideman recordings include collaborations with Anthony Braxton (Duo), Hilton Ruiz (Crusin' with Tito Puente), Yoron Israel (Basic Traneing), James Weidman (All About Time), and Kwaku Kwache Obeng ( Afrijazz).
Born in Washington, DC, Jay Hoggard was raised in Mt. Vernon, New York in a religious family. At age 16, 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 renown World Music program at Wesleyan University . He 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. After graduation in 1976, Jay returned to New York City where he was proclaimed "the most dazzling new vibraphonist in jazz" by Robert Palmer in the New York Times.
Jay Hoggard has been honored and commissioned as a composer in various contexts. He collaborated as composer with choreographer Cleo Parker Robinson on 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 , he was commissioned by Wesleyan University to compose Joyful Swamp and Crossing Point for Max Roach and percussion ensemble. These compositions are included on The Right Place. In 2001 Wesleyan commissioned Vibarimbala for symphonic and jazz orchestra with vibraphone soloist.
As a performer, Jay Hoggard has toured the globe to rave reviews. He has performed in many of the finest venues of music presentation throughout the United States ,Africa Europe, South America, the Caribbean, and Asia. Jay has performed in major venues (Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, Schomberg Center) jazz festivals (St. Lucia. JVC, Montreux, Mt.Fuji, Pori, Hartford), colleges, universities, churches, galleries, libraries, and clubs around the globe. Jay has been featured on radio (NPR, Pacifica) and television (CBS Sunday Morning, BETJazz) 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.He has been featured on television nationally and internationally.
Jay has 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, James Newton, Oliver Lake, Sam Rivers, Anthony Braxton, Jorge Dalto, Terumasa Hino, Dwight Andrews, Anthony Davis, Henry Threadgill, Muhal Richard Abrams , 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.
Jay Hoggard and his wife Donna, a public health professional, have two children.