Down in out-of-the-way San Diego, California (that's out-of-the-way in a New York-centric jazz world), flautist Holly Hofmann
and pianist Mike Wofford have been steadily making world-class jazz for a couple of decades. Woffordwho has spent much of his career in supporting roles, backing vocalists Sarah Vaughan
and Ella Fitzgerald
, saxophonists Zoot Sims
and Benny Carter
, and many moreis evolving into a first-rate leader. His Live at Athanaeum
(Capri Records, 2004) demonstrated the pianist's acumen in the trio context, while Live at Athenaeum Jazz, Volume 2
(Capri Records, 2007), with partner-in-life-and-music Hofmann, showcased the couple in an intimate duo setting.
For her part, Hofmann fronted a marvelous quartet on Minor Miracle
(Capri Records, 2004), with Wofford holding down the piano chair, as well as teaming engaging in a true flute fest on First Date
(Capri Records, 2003), with Ali Ryerson
and multiple reedman Frank Wess
, as part of a trio dubbed Flutology.
With Turn Signal
, the Wofford/Hofmann collaboration veers into tribute territory, opening with the groove-centric "The Dipper, (for Horace Silver
)." Employing a quintet with the inspired choice of trumpeter Terell Stafford
in the frontline with Hofmann, the tune has a modern feel and uniquely silky harmonic sound with the melding of trumpet and flute. Hofmann blows a solo with nuanced coolness and some surprising phrases, while Stafford possesses a bright and succinct sound in front of a deliberate rhythm.
With beautifully unfolding harmonies, "Esperanca" is Wofford's quintet take on the orchestral original by composer/arranger Vince Mendoza
. Wofford's pensive solo emerges from fluid smoothness of the horns, backed adeptly by Rob Thorsen
's muscular bass lines and drummer Richard Sellers
' subtle percussive intricacies.
The group takes saxophonist Bobby Watson
's "Karita" aloft, a soaring in the clouds affair with more delectable harmonies from Hofmann and Stafford, whose solo reaches for heaven in front of the locked-in-tight, cranking-it-up rhythm section, leading to Hofmann's gorgeous songbird turn.
Polished and adventurous, this is a gem of a CD. Engaging and, with the teaming of trumpet and flute, not the standard quintet jazz experience, Jimmy Forrest
's "Soul Street" is a lesson in serious soulful swing. The group closes out with Hofmann's juiced-up "M-Line," the flautist at her most inspired as Stafford burns hot and brassy.