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Album Review

Flutopia is the third album flautist Holly Hofmann has recorded for Azica Records. On all three, she has successfully teamed with Bill Cunliffe and his Hammond B3 organ. Hofmann is one few jazz flute players who started on the instrument and has stayed with it exclusively throughout her career. The only other prominent jazz musician in this category is Hubert Laws who, like Hofmann, is classically trained on the instrument. Most leading jazz flute players, like Frank Wess, Buddy Collette, and Herbie Mann, took up the flute as a second (or third) instrument and for most, it continues to take the back seat to their saxophone. The reason for this is that the flute has limitations as a solo instrument and is much more suitable for ensemble playing. Despite her virtuosity and skill and the fact this is her album, Hoffmann doesn't get as much playing time as Cunliffe and his Hammond. On the first two tracks the organ and guitar intros are so lengthy, it seemed as if she wasn't coming on at all. "Satin Doll" features a marvelous exchange of choruses and ideas between Cunliffe and Frank Potenza's guitar buttressed by meaningful underpinning from Duncan Moore's drums. But Hofmann is nowhere to be heard. However, she presents a lovely, melodic rendition of "My One and Only Love," documenting that the flute as a romantic instrument can be very compelling. While the flute is not the swingiest instrument on the bandstand, when placed in the proper context, it can move right along. Hofmann demonstrates this with excellent playing on such tunes as Mike Wofford's "Further Adventures" and Bill Cunliffe's "Flutopia." Since the flute has an important place in Latin rhythm, it's somewhat surprising that music is missing from this session. Whatever, it is because Hofmann obviously feels that she isn't compelled to take meaningless solos, favoring quality over quantity, that makes this a very attractive album. Hoffmann gets the most out her instrument and is one of the more proficient practitioners of the flute on today's jazz scene. Her third album is recommended.


Born: Painesville, OH

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

An excellent bop-oriented flutist, Holly Hofmann began on the flute when she was five. She had extensive classical training and, in 1984, when she moved to San Diego, Hofmann began playing jazz full-time. She worked with James Moody, Slide Hampton, and Mundell Lowe, among others, before making her recording debut on Capri (1989). Hofmannwent on to record fine straight-ahead...
Full bio
Flutopia, Holly Hofmann
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  • $8.91
  • Genres: Jazz, Music, Bop
  • Released: Jan 01, 1999

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