How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Israeli guitarist and oudist Amos Hoffman reaches a fine balance between his main instruments on this fine recording. The guitar sounds natural and organic in Middle-eastern scales, while the oud fits perfectly in the swinging jazz sensibilities. Hoffman articulates a clear and melodic outline on both instruments, while he crosses genres.
Hoffman is backed by veteran Israeli jazz musicians like bassist/producer Ilan Salem, his friend Avishai Cohen
and percussionist Ilan Katchka. Promising young players such as percussionist Itamar Doari and pianist Shai Maestro complete the ensemble. Hoffman dedicates this recording to his father, sculptor Moshe Hoffman, whose painting graces the cover.
Hoffman navigates between different moods and colors. He begins with the breezy and passionate opening, "Monique," named after his partner. He then moves through assured oud playing that carries the rhythm in a festive "Brown Sugar," later taking the oud to funky regions on "Rea." Hoffman adopts a North African call-and-response structure on "Uncle Charlie," while he finds a more relaxing pace on the gentle "A Minute To Smell The Flowers" and the beautiful and moving "Ras," dedicated to Cohen, with whom he regularly performs and records.
His "Self Portrait" is based on a clear though dense guitar line, one that is developed slowly through patient and trusting interplay. The composition features the main characteristics of Hoffman as a musicianit highlights his ability to tell a story through a rich melody, and marks his sense to surround himself with supporting musicians who can adopt his cross-genre vision while leaving themnotably Salemenough room to express themselves. The most remarkable piece here is a duet between Hoffman on oud and guest pianist Maestro, a track which embodies Hoffman's musical vision.
Track Listing: Monique; Brown Sugar; A Minute To Smell The Flowers; Rea; Self Portrait; Ras; All Along; Uncle Charlie; The Well; Abe Baby; Away.
Personnel: Amos Hoffman; guitar, oud; Gilad Abro: acoustic bass; Amir Bresler: drums; Ilan Katchka: percussion; Ilan Salem; flute, alto flute; Avishai Cohen: electric bass; Calabash (#6, 8); Itamar Doari: drabukka (#8); Shai Maestro: piano.