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Take Five With Marc Hoffman

AAJ Staff By

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Meet Marc Hoffman:

After establishing himself as a composer and performer of film, theatre, concert and gospel music, Marc Hoffman began pursuing his passion for jazz in the early 1990s.

As a pianist and vocalist, Marc performs over 75 dates a year with a repertoire of original jazz and his own arrangements of standards, ballads, and pop. He most often performs with his trio, but works as a soloist and with other ensembles as well, at concerts, festivals, clubs, and other public and private events. Marc's music has been performed across the US and in the UK and Europe.

Marc Hoffman grew up in Salisbury, NC, received a degree in composition from the North Carolina School of the Arts, and completed additional study in film composition at the University of Southern California. He has studied at The Dartington International Summer School of Music in Devon, England. His composition teachers have included David Ott, Leo Arnaud, Neal Hefti, and Sherwood Shaffer. He is a member of BMI and the American Composer's Forum. Marc is also founder and artistic director of the Salisbury School of Music.

Instrument(s):

Composer/pianist/vocalist.

Teachers and/or influences? Teachers: Neal Hefti, David Ott, Sherwood Shaffer

Influences: Gino Vannelli, Bill Evans, Bruce Hornsby, Aaron Copland, Tony Bennett, and hundreds more.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when... I heard my Mom play Rachmaninoff preludes on piano.

Your sound and approach to music: Eclectic. With each piece I try to honor the past while hopefully adding a bit of my own compositional style and interpretation. It's difficult to be fresh creatively, but I believe you can at least put your unique mark on each new piece.

Your teaching approach: I believe in teaching the "big picture" musically and therefore include theory, history and exposure to multiple styles in each lesson. It's important to me for my students, both instrumentalists and vocalists to know why things work or sound good.

Your dream band:

You know, I really like all of the players I am fortunate in working with at the moment. That said, I would love to work with Robert Hurst III and Peter Erskine.

Road story: Your best or worst experience: Hmm, there are so many. I once called the police from the stage during a frat house gig and asked them to come rescue the band. Our guitarist had made a comment from the stage that angered the frat guys and they were circling in the back of the room. We were escorted from the gig and thanks to the presence of the police, paid in full!

Favorite venue:

Ashe Civic Center in West Jefferson, NC. Great pianos and wonderful people to work with. I've been there three years in a row and look forward to going back next year.

Your favorite recording in your discography and why? The newest disc, Curioso. I worked with some excellent players on what I believe are my best jazz pieces to date. I learned a lot on that project, to be sure.

The first Jazz album I bought was: Keith Jarrett, Staircase.

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically? Reaching as many new live audiences as possible with standards and ballads in their original form. I am amazed at how grateful a lot of people are to hear The Great American songbook.

Did you know...

I had a series of private lessons with Leo Arnaud, composer of "Bugler's Dream" (theme music used for the Olympic Games).

CDs you are listening to now:

Adam Klipple, Drive-By-Leslie (Nineteen Eight Records);

Sean Wayland, Pistachio (Seed);

Kurt Elling, Nightmoves (Concord Jazz);

kd lang, Absolute Torch & Twang (Warner Bros. );

Chick Corea, Time Warp (UMG Recordings).

Desert Island picks:

Tony Bennett, The Ultimate Tony Bennett (Slider Pack);

Dave Brubeck, Take Five (Sony Legacy);

Bill Evans, Complete Village Vanguard Recordings (Concord Music Group);

Gino Vannelli, Brother to Brother (A & M);

Rachmaninoff, Plays Rachmaninoff (X5 Music Group).

How would you describe the state of jazz today? Full of wonderful diversity and amazing talent.

What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing? Education at every level.

What is in the near future? New vocal CD in 2011, with standards and three new originals. New all-original instrumental trio CD in 2011. Also trying to remaster a film score so that it can be released.

By Day:

Teaching 20 private piano, voice and improv students.

If I weren't a jazz musician, I would be a: Architect, statistician or watchmaker. I like minute details.

Photo Credit

Kim Weiss

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