Chris Hovan Organ Nouveau
Back in 2017, drummer Chris Hovan began working regularly with Akron area guitarist Bob Niederriter who often utilized an organ trio format. Through his prior associations with Columbus organist Tony Monaco, Hovan found himself often at the helm of several organ groups featuring Monaco, and other Columbus organists including Robert Mason and Jon Eshelman. His own Organic Trio features one of Monaco’s most notable students, Clif Metcalf as well as Detroit guitarist Lawrence Barris.
For his latest project in the organ combo format, Organ Nouveau, Hovan makes the most of his long association with Jon Eshelman while adding collaborator Chandler Carpenter, a guitarist heard regularly with Hovan’s Generations Quartet.
“When you say organ trio, people have certain ideas of what that is,” Hovan says, “But the model that I wanted to go with is the Larry Goldings, Bill Stewart, Peter Bernstein trio. To me, that is the pinnacle of an organ trio.”
That group is based in New York, and is an exemplar of that city’s particular tradition of organ trio playing. Yet the organ trio phenomenon achieved its full flowering in the archipelago of clubs, many in Black American neighborhoods, in the industrial cities of the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest. Hovan’s Organ Nouveau casts a wide net bringing in all these influences for a heady mix of cerebral as well as hip-shaking jazz.
A respected photographer, journalist, and musician, Chris Hovan has been involved with music since starting piano lessons at the tender young age of five. Over the past 25 years, Hovan has played in a variety of Northeast Ohio venues with jazz artists including Rich Holsworth, Josh Smith, Francois Roland, Larry Ross, Jackie Warren, Jeremy Poparad, Bobby Selvaggio, Mark Russo, DANJO Jazz Orchestra, and Just Jazz. He has also shared the stage with such national artists as Arturo O’Farrill, Brian Lynch, Tony Monaco, Alex Harding, and Frank Lacy. Hovan presently works as a percussionist with the horn-based ensemble Funkology and plays drums with Bob Niederriter and with the guitar trio Jazz Shepherds.
Pianist and organist Jon Eshelman began playing around Columbus with a wide variety of groups while studying jazz piano at Ohio State University. After receiving a Bachelor of Music degree in 1999, Jon made his living as a pianist and organist around central Ohio. In 2002 Jon moved to New Jersey to work on a Master’s Degree in jazz piano at Rutgers, studying under pianist Stanley Cowell. While there, Jon gigged regularly with Ralph Bowen, Sean Jones, Lee Hogans, Jerome Jennings, and many others. Jon received his Master of Music degree from Rutgers in 2004. After five years of teaching and playing gigs in New Jersey, New York, and Philadelphia, Eshelman returned to Columbus in 2007. Since then, he has become an integral member of the jazz scene there working with James Gaiters, Pete Mills, Reggie Jackson, and Korey Black.
Guitarist Chandler Carpenter is a rising talent on the Cleveland-Akron jazz scene. The Brunswick native did his undergraduate studies at the University of Akron and just recently earned his Master’s degree in jazz performance from Youngstown State University where he studied under many distinguished professors including Dave Morgan. He has performed with drummer Owen Davis, DANJO Jazz Orchestra, and has been a regular in the house band for BLU Jazz Akron’s monthly jam sessions.