Looking for something cool to do this week that won’t cost an arm and a leg, and will totally impress your date? Try the Lee Hogans Quartet performance on Thursday, August 17 at 8:00 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency in New Brunswick, presented by the New Brunswick Jazz Project.
And guess what? It’s free.
The Lee Hogans Quartet is headed by (you guessed it!) Lee Hogans on trumpet, and he’ll be joined by Adam Faulk on piano, Nimrod Speaks on bass and Corey Rawls on drums. Whenever his schedule has allowed, Lee Hogans has been playing with the New Brunswick Jazz Project since the organization was founded in 2010.
On Thursday, the performance includes music from some of Hogan’s favorite composers, he tells me, including his former boss, Grammy-award winning bassist Marcus Miller. The Quartet will also perform some of Hogans’ own original compositions as well.
OK, I confess. While I consider myself an arts omnivore – a consumer of all forms of the arts – jazz has got to be the one I know least about and have experienced the least, as I lean more heavily towards the classical music, ballet, musical theater sides of things.
After I saw “La La Land,” while the experts focused on writing about what the movie got right and got wrong about what’s happening in the jazz world today, I settled for writing social media posts about how the restaurant managed to have a Steinway piano on which to play dining music (Steinways are super great pianos, but super-duper expensive).
But that’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy the jazz music in the movie. And especially, I reveled in the conversations about what the music means to both the expert (Sebastian) and the neophyte (Mia). And that is one of the things I love most about music – the ways it can reach people of all experiences and affect them in different ways, if only they are open to the experience.
Remember that the Lee Hogans Quartet performance this week is free to attend, so what’s especially awesome is that there’s next to no risk in giving this a shot. Instead, you have a great opportunity to try something that may be new and that you might love. And let me say it again: I would bet that your date would be pretty impressed if you included this on your itinerary Thursday night.
Lee Hogans has a pretty amazingly varied resume. In addition to playing performances in our area, he’s recently been working with R&B singer Lauryn Hill and comedian Dave Chapelle. He’s also performed with Prince and Jay-z (just to name-drop a little on you) and he’s been doing a residency at the Blue Note in New York City, performing with hip-hop legends such as Prodigy from Mobb Deep (who unfortunately passed away earlier this summer).
Not only is his resume varied, but so are his musical influences. Lee credits his oldest brother, Dewayne, as a driving force in exposing him to varied music styles, such as hip-hop, rock and R&B, at an early age. Originally drawn to the saxophone, Lee switched to the trumpet and fell in love with the sound.
While studying trumpet at Georgia State University, he further expanded his music universe by studying classical music with the principal trumpeter of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. He earned a Master’s degree in Jazz Performance from Rutgers University on his way to becoming an influential trumpeter and producer, touring with other prominent musicians and recording and producing a number of songs and albums.
This Thursday’s performance is part of the New Brunswick Jazz Project’s ongoing weekly series of free shows at the Hyatt Regency. NBJP is a nonprofit organization dedicated to presenting world-class jazz performances in New Brunswick and throughout Central Jersey.
When it was first founded in 2010, the NBJP started by presenting two performances a month – now they present free shows four nights a week, year-round. That amounts to more than 700 events featuring 1,000 of the most acclaimed national and international jazz musicians. The founders of the NBJP believe in celebrating jazz in local communities throughout the year – not just limiting it to jazz festivals and in cities like New York and New Orleans.
As one of the only genres that we can truly say was born right here in America, jazz is one of America’s most important contributions to the music world and it began in local communities. And I’m a big fan of keeping music vital in communities, embedding it in the fabric of our daily lives.
So, yeah. Go to New Brunswick on Thursday night, or one of their other many free nights of jazz offered throughout the year, and celebrate great music in our local communities.
The Lee Hogans Quartet will play on Thursday, August 17 from 8:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency in New Brunswick, located at 2 Albany Street. There is no cover charge to attend the performance. For more information, visit nbjp.org.