top of page

Q & A feature Gordon on Hochberg

Chicago has a wonderfully talented bass man that keeps jazz alive five nights a week along with recording projects, touring, and teaching. I thought we should look into the mind of Eric Hochberg and see what makes him tick..... Also, look for his Kimberly's Corner feature in this weeks CJM. Kimberly Gordon: When was the first moment you realized you had musical talent? Eric Hochberg: In fifth grade I put together a little band for the talent contest at Lincoln grade school in Evanston and we won. Kimberly Gordon: Who else in your family has talent? Eric Hochberg: My father had musical and literary talent. He was self taught on piano and clarinet, could sing a tune, and worked as a songwriter and lyricist in New York City for a few years after the World War 2 ended. He had a bit of success, wrote walk on numbers for Helen O'Connell and had a couple of songs on the New York top 40, but gave it up to make a living. Kimberly Gordon: Was there a teacher by name that helped you along your musical life path? Eric Hochberg: Absolutely. I had a number of fine teachers, but I would say two stand out - my high school jazz band director, Roger Mills, and my college mentor, professor David Baker. Both dedicated themselves to their students with a passion for music and the work, and they both inspired me to go for it. Kimberly Gordon: Tell us about your first gig? Eric Hochberg: Well, if we're talking about getting paid to play, it would probably be with the London Fogs, my first high school rock band. We played for little dances at some of the local youth spots. I seem to recall we made about $20 a piece. That would come out to around $142.00 in today's dollars. Not too bad. Kimberly Gordon: What is your most memorable career moment so far? Eric Hochberg: Wow, that's a tough one, but I'd have to say the South American tour I did with pianist Lyle Mays' Quartet back in 1992 was the perfect combination of challenging playing, high level musicianship, fine venues, and an introduction to the amazing cultures of Brazil and Argentina. I also got to play and do some traveling with Bobby McFerrin, Jack DeJonette, Diane Reeves, and hung out with Toots Thielmanns and Cesar Camargo Mariano, so it was a jazz musician's dream come true! Kimberly Gordon: Who did you listen to today? Eric Hochberg: No one yet, but last night I heard John Abercrombie's band at the Jazz Showcase. Kimberly Gordon: Can you share a funny "Chicago back in the day" gig story with us? Eric Hochberg: My band had a gig at a North Shore estate on the lake. We were to play on the boat dock, and to get there we had to load our equipment on a tram that went down a ravine from the back of the house. It was a fairly long way to the dock, and without the tram, many stairs to walk and way too tough to do with equipment.

Anyway, it was a beautiful day, the sun was shining, we got set up and ready to go. We started playing the first tune, and over the lake in the distance I could see a patch of darkness coming our way. It couldn't have been more than five minutes later, and suddenly we were in the middle of a major downpour with no cover. I saw a shed nearby and pulled out a funky, dirty, old tarp inhabited by a spider family, and we managed to get our equipment and our tuxedo'd selves under it until the storm subsided. Of course, the guests were able to use the tram and scurry away immediately. When we finally managed to get ourselves back up to the front of the house, the host asked that we come to a local restaurant to continue the gig. I told him that we were soaked, the amps most likely ruined, and no, we wouldn't be able to make it... Kimberly Gordon: Can you tell us about the interesting projects you are working on right now? Eric Hochberg: Along with our gig at Catch 35 Chicago, I'm looking forward to finishing and releasing a new Larry Novak Trio recording, and a duo recording with pianist Steve Million. Kimberly Gordon: What is your favorite thing to do in Chicago? Eric Hochberg: I guess I'm a one trick pony, but playing music in and around the city does it for me. Kimberly Gordon: What is your favorite "foodie" destination in Chicago? Eric Hochberg: Hah, I'm no “foodie” but for special occasions I like to go to Le Bouchon. Kimberly Gordon: If you could spend time with one entertainer, alive or dead, who would it be and how would you spend your time? Eric Hochberg: In terms of a pure entertainer, I'd like to play duo with Sammy Davis Jr. doing his thing. Kimberly Gordon: Ah yes, Sammy, great choice. Thank you so much for sharing a little of your history and funny stories with CJM readers. See you at Catch 35! Look for the Eric Hochberg Trio weekly at Catch 35 6-9pm 35 W. Wacker, 60601 Tuesdays-Saturdays No Cover Eat or drink something! No reservations needed for the bar Valet parking $12 312.346.3500

bottom of page