Holly Hofmann
Bill Cunliffe

Just Duet


Holly Hofmann, flute
Bill Cunliffe, piano

SKU: AJD-72205 Category: Tags: , , ,

Track Listing

1. But Not For Me (Gershwin)

2. Conto de Ossanha (Baden Powell & de Morales)

3. Time to Say Goodbye (Cunliffe)

4. Powell’s Prances (Powell)

5. Three Romances (Schumann)

6. Bag’s Groove (Jackson)

7. Belinda (Cunliffe)

8. Old Folks (Hill & Robinson)

9. I Mean You (Monk & Hawkins)

10. Willow Weep For Me (Ronnel)

11. High Flutin’ Blues (Hofmann & Cunliffe)

12. Home (Cunliffe)

October 1997

Flutist Holly Hofmann (based in San Diego) and Bill Cunliffe (who plays often in both Los Angeles and New York) have teamed up in several different situations during the past couple years, most notably as a duet. Their recent CD (available from Azica, 1641 Eddy Rd., Cleveland, OH 44112) finds the two-piece band to be a very self-sufficient unit with a surprising amount of variety.

During a set that ranges from hot boppish stomps (such as “Powell’s Prances”, “I Mean You” and “High Flutin’ Blues) to explorative and at times wistful versions of ballads (“Time To Say Goodbye” and “Old Folks”) and Schumann’s “Three Romances,” Hofmann and Cunliffe consistently inspire each other. The close musical communication between the pair is quite impressive as are their spontaneous ideas and quick reactions. The music is moody but generally quite upbeat and, although based in bop, it is not limited by its boundaries. The closing “Home” is a change of pace with Cunliffe playing synthesizer and Mark Libby added on percussion. Otherwise this is a strictly acoustic (but often electrifying) collaboration. Highly recommended.

–Scott Yanow

December 1997

A tough act to sustain. Hofmann, flute and Cunliffe, piano — extracting every color and nuance from their instruments — bring it off. Both are classically trained with chops-a-go-go; both have long jazz resumes; they’re perfectly at ease in both idioms; their playing is so tight they seem to share a single musical brain. Hofmann’s first album for Azica included Bobby Shew, trumpet; Cunliffe; Bob Magnusson, bass; and the veteran Victor Lewis, drums. She is the only flutist to headline at the Village Vanguard (with pianist Kenny Barron, bassist Ray Brown and Lewis). Selections range from two originals by Cunliffe (and one with Hofmann), to standards like “Willow Weep” and “But Not For Me,” to “Bag’s Groove” and “I Mean You.” And just to give themselves a little challenge, they recorded live-to-two track, no mixing, overdubbing, no enhancing: impressive and a nice result!

–Dave Burns

October 1997

Three highly enjoyable performances took place recently at the Jazz Bakery. Flutist Holly Hofmann and pianist Bill Cunliffe were a mutually stimulating duo, constantly pushing and challenging each other. They recently recorded a duet album for Azica, and some of the material was taken from that, but obviously the solos were quite a bit different. Their diverse repertoire was highlighted by the boppish “Powell’s Prances,” “Old Folks,” some bossa-nova, the pianist’s solo feature on “I Cover the Waterfront” (which found him doing some striding), and a few classical melodies.

–Scott Yanow

July-August 1998

Classical and jazz come together when the duo of Holly Hofmann and Bill Cunliffe perform. Whether presenting a jazz standard with classical overtones such as Bags’ Groove and George Gershwin’s But Not For Me, or when jazzing up a serious piece such as Baden Powell’s Conto de Ossanha, the pair includes ample amounts of the elements which distinguish both genres. Carefully executed melodies, precise dynamic levels, and well-worn harmonies sit side by side with improvised “fours” and toe-tappin’ rhythms.

Hofmann’s early training and experience includes a bachelor’s degree from The Cleveland Institute of Music and a master’s in music from the University of Northern Colorado. Similarly, Cunliffe’s education includes study with Mary Lou Williams at Duke University and a master’s degree from the Eastman School of music. But both artists have settle in Southern California and have dedicated their careers to jazz performance. The flutist has headlined a quartet at New York’s prestigious Village Vanguard with pianist Kenny Barron, bassist Ray Brown, and drummer Victor Lewis. Cunliffe worked with Buddy Rich in the mid-80s, the Clayton-Hamilton Big Band, and has been very active on the Los Angeles scene.

With the song’s lyrics sitting prominently at center stage, Cunliffe and Fogmann perform the ballad Old Folks expressively and with a balanced approach. Monk’s I Mean You highlights the quirky bebop lines and sudden stops we’ve all come to know and love quite well. Robert Schumann’s Three Romances, originally written for violin and piano, is performed straightforwardly and in the classical tradition. Cunliffe’s compositions Belinda and Home are deeply sensitive pieces, creating pensive moods quite different form the driven bebop on the other tracks. Bags’ Groove and Willow Weep for Me portray the fluid jazz flute in a forceful manner with intensity and power emanating from both instruments. Their arrangement on the latter tune is charged with excitement and contains several changes in tempo; it’s clearly the session’s high point. Recommended.

–Jim Santella