Steven Hobert  (Photo: Andrea Canter)

Steven Hobert, © Andrea Canter

Another ensemble of area heavyweights makes its debut on the Friday Night Jazz at Reverie (The Nicollet) series on Friday, February 5. The Steven Hobert Quartet features an exciting group of Twin Cities musicians, with leader Hobert (piano) joined by wide-ranging bassist Yohannes Tona, nationally touring violinist Kip Jones, and up-and-coming drum sensation Arthur “LA” Buckner. This is perhaps one of the most eclectic quartets to ever perform on this jazz series!

Originally from Hartland, Wisconsin, Steven Hobert recalls that he “would noodle around on the piano and just make things up, maybe even as young as middle school.” The music of Keith Jarrett, particularly his solo improvisation concerts, influenced Steven’s decision to pursue piano improvisation at the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire, as it allowed him to express himself through uninhibited creativity. After graduation, Hobert performed with symphony orchestras from Calgary to Buffalo, played on cruise ships, and spent a year touring Japan, Canada and the U.S. with the Glenn Miller Orchestra. He also served as music director for vocal ensemble Five By Design. Currently Steven leads FireFly Forest, plays accordion in Lulu’s Playground and piano with the Adam Meckler Orchestra, works in duo with saxophonist/flautist James Kellerman and guitarist Dean Magraw, and generally works as a freelance musician and teacher of piano, accordion and woodwinds.

Bassist Yohannes Tona grew up in Awassa in southern Ethiopia, the son of a church organist (father) and vocalist (mother). Studying guitar and then bass in his homeland, he attended Yared, Ethiopia’s lone music school, at sixteen. Yohannes emigrated to the U.S. in the late 1990s to  study at the Berklee College of Music. A few yeas later he was recruited to serve as music director for the Ethiopian Church in Minneapolis. Here he has played with the Grammy-nominated Excelsior Choir , Dr. Mambo’s Combo, Darnell Davis and the Remnant, Nachito Herrera, Kevin Washington, Doug Little, #Mpls, and Foreign Motion. He’s also performed with top area vocalists including T. Mychal Rambo, Bruce Henry, Debbie Duncan, and Sounds of Blackness, leads the Yohannes Tona Band and Made in Abyssinia, and works as a producer for a variety of projects.

Yohannes Tona (Photo: Andrea Canter)

Yohannes Tona, © Andrea Canter

A violinist’s son, Kip Jones grew up in Duluth and received his degree in Violin Performance from Boston’s Berklee College of Music, where he studied jazz with Matt Glaser.  After graduation, he continued his study of improvisation with renowned Hindustani violinist Kala Ramnath in Mumbai, India.  With his wife he spent a year traveling through South America, adding more global influences to his sound. Kip has performed at the Philadelphia Fringe Festival, Minneapolis’ Orchestra Hall, Aerostitch’s Very Boring Motorcycle Rally, Ecuador’s Ministry of Employment, School Day in Gokseong, South Korea, and on subway platforms across the United States. As a composer, his work has been commissioned by ensembles that include the Lake Superior Chamber Orchestra and A Far Cry. He is known for his ebullient and innovative solo performances in a style he describes as “experimental folk.” Kip currently tours with the modern eclectic quartet ETHEL.

Currently a Masters degree student at McNally Smith College of Music, drummer Arthur “LA” Buckner works with national gospel recording artist Jovnota Patton & Deliverance for Youth, Shiloh Temple International Ministries, the Ethan Yeshaya Trio, Cameron Wright Band, Paris Bennett, and the award-winning McNally Smith X-Tet. Born and raised in Minneapolis, LA was influenced by his father’s jazz collection, his mother’s Quincy Jones and Erykah Badu albums, his involvement in the music of his family church. His father, baritone singer Art G. Buckner, bought LA his first drum kit after observing his son’s fascination with the drums he heard during church services. LA is known for his ability to incorporate Latin, Blues, Pop, Hip-Hop and R&B into whatever style of music he’s playing.

Formerly The Nicollet, Reverie is the new name for the cafe and bar on the corner of Nicollet and Franklin in south Minneapolis, with Friday Night Jazz every week, curated by Steve Kenny. Music at 9 pm; no cover but donations ($10 suggested) appreciated to support the musicians and the series. Schedule at http://fridaynightjazzatreverie.info