Flutes Aren't Just For Doublers: Dotti Anita Taylor, Ali Ryerson and Holly Hofmann/Mike Wofford

Ken Dryden By

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Dotti Anita Taylor
A Morning Glory

Ali Ryerson
Jammin' at the Jazz Corner
Sweet Jazz

Holly Hofmann & Mike Wofford
Live at Athenaeum Jazz, Vol. 2

Flute is not as uncommon an instrument in jazz, as many reed players double on it, but rarer is the musician who makes it their primary instrument. Two of the instrumentalists reviewed below play flute exclusively, while the third was a pianist first before adding flute.

After long careers as a math teacher and professional musician, Dotti Anita Taylor finally makes her recorded debut as a leader with A Morning Glory. Backed by a core group including veteran pianist Bertha Hope, bassist Miriam Sullivan and drummer Bernice Brooks, Taylor's warm tone on her instrument (with judicious use of vibrato in spots) and intuitive improvisations make each of the standards she plays sound fresh. Her driving Latin-flavored arrangement of Rodgers & Hart's "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered (adding guest percussionist Steve Kroon) and lush duet with guitarist Dave Tunnell on Thad Jones' magical ballad "A Child is Born stand out. Veteran Harlem saxophonist Patience Higgins (heard on soprano), trumpeter Eddie Allen and Tunnell make the quartet sound like a much bigger band in Taylor's potent hard bop composition "It's Misterios . Her bittersweet title track suggests recalling a lost love, while "Here Comes the Sun is not the familiar Beatles hit but an original that showcases the leader's warm vocal. Perhaps she won't take so long to record a followup session.

Ali Ryerson first recorded as a leader back in the mid '80s and is probably best known for her stints with the Red Baron and Concord labels, as well as her group Flutology, which also features flautists Holly Hofmann and Frank Wess. Her first live recording took place at the Jazz Corner in Hilton Head, South Carolina with two locally-based musicians, bassist George Sheck (with whom she had worked on many occasions when he still lived in New York City) and guitarist Howard Paul. Since this isn't a regularly working trio, they stick to familiar standards, but played with imagination. Whether playing flute or the lower-pitched alto flute, Ryerson's lyrical, creative improvisations are consistently swinging while giving her sidemen plenty of space. The trio's superb counterpoint in "Alone Together , the punchy unison between the leader and Paul in the buoyant take of "Lullaby of Birdland and her warm rendition of "Emily are among the many highlights. Jazz Corner owner Bob Masteller is added on flugelbone for the breezy finale of "Just Friends . The excellent engineering and attentive, quiet audience are added bonuses to this rewarding CD.

Flautist Holly Hofmann has been active on the jazz scene for over two decades and has recorded a number of her own CDs. First partnered on a gig with pianist Mike Wofford in 1985, she performed with him frequently and they eventually married in 2000; this intimate live performance, recorded at the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library in La Jolla, California, is just the two of them. Hofmann's two originals include the mournful ballad "Free Day (for Samuel Barber) , inspired in part by Barber's "Adagio For Strings . She also penned the dark, Latin-flavored "Presentimiento , while Wofford wrote the playful "Floof for her. The bright, lively Latin setting of the standard "Out of This World proves very refreshing. Hofmann switches to the warmer alto flute (her first recording on the instrument) for three tracks: the lush opener "More Than You Know , the first of two infrequently-performed Monk compositions (the moody ballad "Introspection ) which is played as a medley (the second piece is "Eronel ) and a breezy take of the standard "If I Should Lose You .

Tracks and Personnel

A Morning Glory

Tracks: Gentle Rain; It's Misterios; A Mroning Glory; Time after Time: Au Latin; Here Comes the Sun; Herkimer; Bewitched; I Thought About You; A Child is Born; The Cat's Walk.

Personnel: Dotti Anita Taylor: flute, vocals; Bertha Hope: piano; Miriam Sullivan: bass; Bernice Brooks: drums; Dave Tunnell: guitar; Steve Kroon: percussion; Eddie Allen: trumpet; Patience Higgins: saxophones

Jammin' at the Jazz Corner

Tracks: Speak Low; My One and Only Love; Alone Together; Body and Soul; Lullaby of Birdland; Emily; Recordame; Just Friends.

Personnel: Ali Ryerson: flute, alto flute; Howard Paul: guitar; George Sheck: bass; Bob Masteller: fluegelbone.

Live at Athenaeum Jazz, Vol. 2

Tracks: More Than You Know; Floof; Introspection/Eronel; No Mercy; Twelve; Free Day (for Samuel Barber); Out of This World; If I Should Lose you; Presentimiento; Exactly Like You.

Personnel: Holly Hofmann: flute, alto flute; Mike Wofford: piano.


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