Saxophonist and pianist Brian Hogans has been making the jazz world take notice. The Morrow, GA native has worked with artists like James Williams, Winard Harper and as a regular in the Sean Jones Quintet. A switch hitter with fantastic abilities on both saxophone and piano (he subbed as a piano player in Jones’ band for a period), Hogans focuses on the alto and soprano saxophones on this, his debut CD. Joined by an all-star backing band including Aaron Goldberg on piano, this recording tears it up from start to finish.
Already possessing a mature sound and stylistic conception in his playing, Hogans’ Evidence Of Things To Come is as near perfect a debut as one can make. 10 original compositions provide room for not only Hogans’ take-no-prisoners musical abilities, but also give his accompanying musicians room to shine as well. For example, “Mind Tricks” is a fast ripper that not only shows Hogans has a nimble mind and even quicker fingers, but also gives Obed Calvaire plenty of opportunity to show his cross-stick technique to dazzling brilliance. To say this tune is spirited is an understatement. Laying lines on top of and within each others’ playing is handled so well and they are so in-sync you feel the two are in each other’s head.
Guitarist Alex Wintz shines in a Bill Frisellish manner on the title track. Finding just the right notes to leave out of guitar chord voicings is much harder than deciding which to employ, and Wintz’s facile fingers and harmonic conceptions are dead-on in conjunction with Hogans’ lightly darting lines.
Using vocalist Tammy Scheffer in a wordless manner on “Knights’ Domain” is brilliant. Conjuring up aural images of how well Pat Metheny has always employed this technique, as well as Chick Corea’s use of Flora Purim, Hogans’ melody is most assuredly his own. Scheffer’s inflections match the slight scoops and articulative quality Hogans employs. They’re work during the melody, while in unison, is so clever and they’re tones so in line it’s hard to imagine the piece done in any other manner.
Throughout Hogans shows himself to be the master of the saxophone. Whether on soprano or alto, has a flashy playing style that is not to the detriment of his advanced harmonic conceptions. Rarely does a first CD express the power and developed advancement of a young artist because, frankly, they usually don’t have it. This is not the case with Hogans. His tools are formidable, his compositions are interesting and well thought out, and his band plays with the surety that can only come for spending time playing together in order to develop a cohesive and unified sound. This is not a disc to be missed.