Several years have passed since last I heard Hinda Hoffman, and I’d almost forgotten what an absolutely marvelous singer she is. It’s good to be reminded of that, even though Hinda did have to produce this second album herself, as she did her first one. So why can’t someone with such conspicuous talent get a break? Why does she have to scratch out a living in Chicago, singing wherever and whenever she can find an open mic, while the Diana Kralls, Cassandra Wilsons and Nnenna Freelons of the world — none of whom, in our opinion, can hold a candle to Hinda — command generous recording contracts, light up festival marquees and earn mega–buck guarantees? I have a theory, and it is this: even though Hinda has a wonderful contralto voice, near–perfect diction, enormous respect for a lyric, a keen sense of rhythm enhanced by an incisive feeling for Jazz inflection, and — brace yourselves — actually sings on–key, she lacks the one ingredient that our image–conscious society prizes more highly than talent, and that is glamor. Dress Hinda Hoffman in the finest furs and jewelry and she’d still be Hinda Hoffman, only dressier. Don't get me wrong; Hinda's not unattractive or anywhere near that, but she is, to put it as discreetly as possible, an average-looking brunette who happens to own an amazingly above-average singing voice. If — and we can’t be certain that’s the case — if Hinda’s less–than–provocative appearance counts as one strike against her, her determination to be a Jazz singer is no doubt another, and the third could well be the fact that she chooses to live in Chicago, not New York or L.A. Add ’em up and the result is that many people won’t hear her impressive renditions of “I Got It Bad (And That Ain’t Good),” “Deep Purple,” “Comes Love” and so many other memorable songs, and that is their loss, as Hinda pours her heart and soul into every number on this exemplary CD. As the late Steve Allen, a superb connoisseur of talent, observes in the album’s brief liner note, Hoffman is “one of the best singers in the business. She’s the real thing, a singer with not only a fine voice, but an authentic feeling for Jazz. You can understand her every word, and her simple sound is just lovely. For you ‘excellent freaks’ out there, [this album] is a treat.” We should add that she’s also an astute appraiser of songs, carefully reinvigorating Alec Wilder’s “Moon and Sand” and such other sleeping princes as “Day by Day,” “Wonder Why,” “Our Day Will Come” and Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Dreamer” (lyrics by Gene Lees). To her credit, she sings Dave Frishberg’s seductive “Peel Me a Grape” her way, with any allusions to Blossom Dearie no more than coincidental. On that number, as on every other, Hoffman receives unflagging support from pianist Dennis Luxion (who divides time with Ron Perrillo), bassist Dennis Carroll and drummer George Fludas. Hinda Hoffman is indeed, as Allen affirms, “the real thing,” and Moon and Sand
is one of the few vocal albums to earn a permanent home in this finicky Jazz-lover's record library, in recompense for which I've one small favor to ask on your next album, Hinda, if there is to be one, please include your delightful version of the Gershwins' "Little Jazz Bird."
Contact:Hinda Hoffman, 1200 W. Chase, Suite 3A, Chicago, IL 60626 (phone 773–508–0912).
Track Listing: Wonder Why; Deep Purple; Whisper Not; The Lamp Is Low; Flower Medley (Lotus Blossom, A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing); Our Day Will Come; Day Dream; Comes Love; Dreamer; Day by Day; I Got It Bad (And That Ain