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Diane Hoffman: My Little French Dancer (2008)

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Diane Hoffman: My Little French Dancer How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Honoring a departed friend through her latest album, singer Diane Hoffman tells stories that provide a clear glimpse of the heartache and depression that follow such a loss. Her "Farewell, Noelle" provides the facts while her interpretation of "When Did You Leave Heaven" provides the feeling.

Tenor saxophonist Jerry Weldon, guitarist John Hart and pianist Oliver Von Essen provide a big lift, keeping the session immersed in a jazz arena through statements that recall Rollins, Montgomery and Monk respectively. Rhythms vary from upbeat beguine to remorseful ballad on a program that includes "Gone With the Wind," "Close Enough for Love" and "When Love Was All We Had." Each harbors a statement of love lost, memories retained and a void existing where there was once companionship.

Hoffman's similarity to Carmen McRae comes through with a forceful, don't-hold-back approach where seamless phrasing pushes lyrics forward without hesitation. The grit in her voice and a touch of angst ensure a dramatic session steeped in experience. "Well, You Needn't" and "Blackberry Winter" provide the best evidence of her strengths, "Sunday in New York" recalls the good times with a light spirit amplified by Weldon's upbeat tenor and "Two Years of Torture" has fun with the blues. To celebrate a life and mark the passing of a close friend, Hoffman has created this program with care. She recalls both sides of her dear friendship through music; she's saddened by the loss, but buoyed by the good times that were had together.

Track Listing: Gone With the Wind; Well, You Needn't; Close Enough for Love; When Love Was All We Had; Blackberry Winter; You're My Thrill; Sunday in New York; Two Years of Torture; Yellow Days; Farewell, Noelle; When Did You Leave Heaven?.

Personnel: Diane Hoffman: vocals; Oliver Von Essen: piano, organ; Ulysses Owens: drums; Peter Martin Weiss: double bass; John Hart: guitar (3, 4, 5, 9); Don Militello: Fender Rhodes electric piano (8, 11); Jerry Weldon: tenor saxophone (1, 2, 7, 8, 10, 11).

Record Label: Self Produced

Style: Vocal


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