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I don't know if Groovin' is trumpeter Dave Hoffman's first album as leader, but it's readily apparent from the likeness on its cover that he's no young lion (an old fox, perhaps?). Although there are no liner notes, a press release that accompanied the CD tells us that he has performed with a number of well-known musicians and served as soloist and composer / arranger for the Ray Charles Orchestra, with whom he has visited Russia twice, in 1994 and 2000. Hoffman has also played at many of the world's leading Jazz festivals including Newport, JVC, Nice, Antibes, London, North Sea, Montreal and Montreux. The reason for Hoffman's prominence is as obvious as his flowing beard and barren head he's a blue-chip player with a lovely sound, impressive technique and a sizable reservoir of provocative ideas. A talented writer too, as all of the compositions and arrangements on Groovin' are his. Groove they do, consistently and with an abundance of magnetism. This is straight-ahead bop-based Jazz, performed without apology by musicians who are obviously relishing the occasion. Hoffman shuffles players in and out to heighten the group dynamic and keep the listener guessing, playing piano himself on "Another Year," "April in Perris" and "In the Circle of Your Arms," the last unaccompanied. Tenor Doug Stone, another resourceful improviser from the George Coleman / Joe Lovano school, is most often heard, with briefer comments by tenors Hollis Gentry and Steve Feierabenn, baritone John Rekevics, bassist Glen Fisher, guitarist Mike Nellas, pianist Ray Briz and drummer Kevin Hart. Stone and Hoffman set the pace on "Groovin' with the Farns," and everyone takes it from there, swinging earnestly through "North Pole Cha-Cha," "Baby Steps" (described as a kindler gentler "Giant Steps"), the Messengers-influenced "Five Love Bison," "Monday Night with Larry at Croces" and the rest of Hoffman's colorful charts. An unexpected but most welcome surprise package.
Contact: Lake Front Productions, 217 E. Thrush, #A, Peoria, IL 61603. Web site, www.iaonline.com/users/paul/home.htm. Dave Hoffman's web site, members.tripod.com/energy_to_stillness/index/ or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Also available at www.cdbaby.com/cd/davidhoffman2; www.mp3.com/david hoffman
Track Listing: Groovin' with the Farns; North Pole Cha-Cha; Baby Steps; Five Love Bison; Another Year; Monday Night with Larry at Croces; In the Circle of Your Arms; Senator Stupid; April in Perris (66:42).
Personnel: Dave Hoffman, trumpet, flugelhorn, piano; Doug Stone (1, 3?5, 8), Steve Feierabenn (2, 6, 9), Hollis Gentry (2, 6, 9), tenor sax; John Rekevics (2, 6, 9), baritone sax; Mike Nellas (1, 3, 4, 8), guitar; Ray Briz (1, 2, 6, 9), piano; Tim Brickner (1, 3, 4, 8), Glen Fisher 2, 6, 9), bass; Kevin Hart (1, 3, 4, 8), Tim McMahon (2, 6, 9), drums; Russell Caldwell (2, 6, 9), percussion.