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Holly Hofmann: Minor Miracle

Dan McClenaghan By

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I'm indebted to Holly Hofmann. I had very little interest in jazz flute until I encountered First Date (Capri Records, '03) by Flutology, a set that featured a front line trio of flutists Hofmann, Frank Wess and Ali Ryerson. The opener, the classic high octane "Be Bop," knocked me out. It seemed such an "un-flutey" number, but they just cooked on it. This ear-opener, an excellent disc all around, had me soon out searching the record racks for Herbie Mann and Hubert Laws, and getting deeper into the Brazilian sound.

On Minor Miracle Hofmann blows her bluesy, hard driving flute in front of an exceptional rhythm section—pianist Mike Wofford, bassist Peter Washington, and drummer Victor Lewis—on an exceptionally fine set of mainstream and Latin sounds.

The group opens with "Everything I Love," one of those characteristically pretty Cole Porter melodies, with Hofmann and crew rolling in on a gentle, genteel-sounding groove, with pianist Wofford's solo floating feather-like—a la Bill Evans—over the lilting bounce of the bass/drum rhythm.

"CRS-CRAFT," written by the late bassist Ray Brown, with whom Hofmann toured extensively, gets down and swings more, Hofman insistent, Wofford precise and percussive. "Minor Miracle," written by Hofmann and Wofford—the pianist is the flutist's soul mate, musically and in marriage—features cool tones over a brightly bouncing rhythm; and Jobim's "Samba do Aviao," a piano/flute duet, features some of the disc's most intricately lovely interplay. The group Latinizes—and sizzles on—Billy Strayhorn's "Johnny Come Lately" (this listener's highlight) and offers up a wistful Brazilian ballad with Francis Hime's "Minha."

Hofmann was selected as a "Rising Star" in the latest Downbeat poll; they do know how to pick them. With Minor Miracle she proves that the saxophone or trumpet in front of the rhythm trio isn't the only jazz quartet game in town.


Track Listing: Everything I Love, CRS-CRAFT, Minor Miracle, Samba do Aviao, Tonk, Johnny Come Lately, Minha, Will You Still Be Mine

Personnel: Holly Hofmann--flute; Mike Wofford--piano; Peter Washington--bass; Victor Lewis--drums

Title: Minor Miracle | Year Released: 2004


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