Tim Hogue Talks Sax, Jazz, and ‘Oblivion’
“I’m nervous anytime I perform. But as soon as I step on stage and play my first note, that goes away and I let loose,” says Timothy “Tim” Hogue, a senior music major at North Greenville University.
Perhaps reserved when he’s off stage, Hogue showed just how comfortable he’s become on stage — tenor saxophone in hand — at NGU’s Fall 2016 Concert Band Concert, where he featured as a student soloist to a crowded Turner Chapel.
“I’m not much of a talker, so when I play my music, that’s my form of communication,” he says.
Hogue first picked up a saxophone when he was a middle school student. He was spurred on by the encouragement of his father, who listened mostly to smooth jazz and regretted not learning to play the instrument himself.
In 2007, when Hogue was 14, he started lessons with multi-instrumentalist Charles “Charlie” Parker, who gives private music lessons and also serves as an adjunct in NGU’s Cline School of Music.
The next year, Parker invited Hogue to play in NGU’s jazz band for on-campus and off-campus events. He also let Hogue tag along with him for his own gigs at venues in downtown Greenville, S.C., and nearby.
“I realized that jazz was something to do as a music career when I went on a gig with Mr. Parker at Chicora Alley. That experience, to me, was life changing,” remembers Hogue. “We played with a bunch of other musicians. I saw how they were able to communicate with each other. You figure out how to play when you get there on the spot. It’s raw. It’s improvisation at its finest. I wanted to feel that more often.”
And it was Parker who “nudged” Hogue to study music at NGU after his graduation from Mauldin High School. When Hogue started classes in 2012, he remained a member of the North Greenville Jazz Band; he still plays with them now in his final year at NGU.
“Mr. Parker pretty much taught me everything about jazz and improvisation,” says Hogue.
But at NGU, Hogue also learned to read music and understand the theory behind it. He describes NGU’s theory program as “top-notch.” Slowly, he began to appreciate both forms of playing music: improvising and reading.
“My first two years here, I always looked at [reading music] as confining to me. I felt I couldn’t do what I wanted to with it,” says Hogue. “I kept working on it, working on it. And I had a eureka moment: I can [read music] and make the music come to life off the page. That’s what I learned here. I’ve found that sweet balance between the two. It’s good to be able to have both sides of the coin.”
Hogue’s also learned to play other instruments during his studies at NGU, including piano, flute, and clarinet. As a student, he’s even met up with some of his classmates to play just for fun as well as to record music. And he’s participated in NGU’s Concert Band.
In early October 2016, he played a solo at NGU’s Concert Band Concert. His chosen selection for the event? An “emotional” tango called “Oblivion” by Argentinian composer Astor Piazzolla.
The song’s an apt fit for Hogue. Although his musical inspirations are more along the lines of jazz greats like Motown; Earth, Wind, and Fire; Oscar Peterson; James Carter; and Chick Corea, it’s the more lyrical, story-driven style of these artists that he connects with and seeks to incorporate into any genre he takes on.
“My goal when I play is to try to tell a story — whether what [I feel] in the moment or what I felt when I practiced the piece,” says Hogue.
But, too, the song title seems appropriate for Hogue’s philosophy on playing music, alone or on stage. When he plays, he seeks to establish a sense of oblivion — blocking out what’s around him and what’s on his mind, because they’ll only interfere with the performance.
“I don’t really think about what I’m about to play; I just play. Thinking too much can get in the way of the music,” says Hogue. “You could say that’s my trick to playing music.”
His rendition of “Oblivion” is an attention-keeping mix of both the original text and also Hogue’s own jazz-flavored interpretation that he makes up as he goes. This number’s just one more he can add to the list of “thousands of songs” he’s written so far.
“Every time you improvise, you write a song,” he explains.
And he hopes to write many more. After his expected graduation in December 2016, Hogue hopes to play on a cruise ship, open up his own studio or music store, and eventually become a performer, possibly even internationally.
“All the teachers I’ve had here have instilled in me all the knowledge from the years they’ve performed and allowed me to be a sponge and put it into me [so I can] take it out into the real world to continue my journey in music,” says Hogue.
For more information about the music degree at NGU, visit ngu.edu/music.php.
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