Amos Hoffman's story is one of departures and returns. This guitarist-oudist cut his teeth in his native Israel, made his way to Amsterdam, and finally ended up in New York in the '90s as part of what could be considered the first wave of Israeli jazz talent to really make an impact on the Big Apple. And then he left. Hoffman returned to Israel, continuing to play, record on occasion, and mentor up-and-comers who've come stateside, or, no doubt, will. But that's not where this story ends: after spending the past fourteen years in Israel, Hoffman came back to the city that never sleeps in February of 2015 and recorded this appealing straight-ahead statement. Back To The City
finds Hoffman rekindling old musical relationships, covering classics all by his lonesome, and delivering a good number of originals that speak in different tongues. There's upbeat, blues-infused music that's Monk-ish in the way it swings, speaks, and sings ("Back To The City"); sounds of southern lifebreezy, unhurried, semi-countrified, and wholly hospitable in nature ("Alone In South Carolina"); and Brazilian-based music capped off with a brief but memorable guitar cadenza ("After Lazy Noon"). In addition, there's also some driving bop ("Mr. X."), mellow-ish swing with room for stretching ("Easy Going"), and groove music that speaks in Adderley-esque fashion ("Little Pigs"). And then there are the aforementioned solo takes on standards ("I'm Getting Sentimental Over You," "Pannonica," "Darn That Dream," "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes"), performances that ably demonstrate how an artist can be an in-the-tradition player and
an individualist all at once.
It's clear that there's genuine camaraderie here, as everybody's supporting one another, playing for the song, and having a blast all the while. Hoffman and drummer Vince Ector
really connect when trading solos ("Back To The City") and leading the charge ("Mr. X"), trumpeter Duane Eubanks
and saxophonist Asaf Yuria
feed off of each other and thrive in both down-home environs and up-tempo locales, guest Itai Kriss
' flute sounds right at home when it appears ("Little Pigs"), and bassist Omer Avital
ties everyone and everything together with his tasty and tasteful bass work. This is a solid group, delivering what can only be described as a straight-down-the-middle winner.
Easy Going; After Lazy Noon; I'm Getting Sentimental Over You; Back To The City; Alone In South Carolina; Pannonica; Mr. X; Darn That Dream; Little Pigs; Smoke Gets In Your Eyes.
Amos Hoffman: guitar; Omer Avital: bass; Vince Ector: drums; Duane Eubanks: trumpet; Asaf Yuria: tenor saxophonist; Itai Kriss: flute.