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Jazz legends coming to Yuma
Ready to be serenaded by jazz royalty?
Two big names in jazz come to Yuma this week, bringing with them musical abilities on the flute and piano that have earned adoring praise around the globe.
Holly Hofmann and Mike Wofford step into the spotlight Thursday during this week's installment of the Village Jazz Series. The performance marks Hofmann's second performance with the annual jazz series and organizers say fans are thrilled that she's returning.
“Holly Hofmann performed in the Village Jazz Series once before and people have told me that it was the best concert – of any kind – they had ever attended,” said Steve Hennig with the Yuma Jazz Company. “She is revered internationally as a performer and clinician and considered by her peers as one of the best, if not the best, on flute in the world.”
Hofmann appears Thursday alongside legendary jazz pianist Mike Wofford, a longtime musical collaborator who also happens to be Hofmann's husband.
The concert is slated for 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday at the Village Area of the Yuma Palms Regional Center. Admission is free. Concert goers are encouraged to bring their own seating.
The Village Jazz Series began offering weekly performances in January and continues through late April. To see the full schedule, go to YumaJazz.com.
Hofmann told the Yuma Sun that's she excited to once again connect with Yuma's lovers of jazz.
“To those who attended the first concert, I'd say, ‘Hope you'll come back, say hi and enjoy the piano artistry of master jazz pianist Mike Wofford,' because this will be a totally different kind of program than my previous appearance at the series,” Hofmann said during a recent phone interview. “To jazz fans coming for the first time I'd say, ‘Put aside everything you think a jazz flute and piano concert may sound like, and join us for an evening of jazz standards, blues, Bossa Nova and bebop!'”
Hofmann's resume boasts work with jazz greats ranging from Ray Brown and Frank Wess to James Moody and Kenny Barron.
Hofmann is most often celebrated for her ability to recreate what people expect to hear from the flute.
“... Holly Hofmann has taken the flute from its middle-of-the-orchestra origins and made it a front-line instrument in jazz,” wrote T. Michael Crowell with Froggerdogger.com. “She has earned praise and respect of musicians and jazz aficionados for her bluesy, bebop-based improvisations and technical prowess on an instrument that many once regarded as definitely not a jazz horn.”
The musician explained her unique approach to coaxing such a wide range of sounds from her beloved instrument.
“A flute played in classical music or yoga meditations is just one side of the instrument,” she told the Yuma Sun. “When I play the flute in jazz, I use a whole different approach. I try to simply make the flute just another jazz horn, like trumpet, or saxophone. I believe the reason any instrument touches us deeply is the excellence and interpretations of the artist playing it.”
Hofmann began her career by studying with the Cleveland Orchestra's principal flutist, Maurice Sharp. She also earned a degree in music from the Cleveland Institute of Music, followed by a graduate degree from the University of Northern Colorado.
Hofmann moved to San Diego in the 1980s and began working with pianist Mike Wofford and bassist Bob Magnusson, both longtime staples of the California jazz scene. During those early years, Hofmann booked a popular jazz program at the Horton Grand Hotel, working with stars such as Diana Krall, Cassandra Wilson, Tommy Flanagan and Joe Hendersen.
“The art of playing jazz is about carefully observing what the composer wrote and making it one's own in that particular moment,” she said. “While I am performing a certain piece, I try to let the music affect me emotionally, then my improvisation is a natural response.”
Hofmann eventually paired with pianist Bill Cunliffe and the pair toured globally, playing festivals and chamber venues.
She teamed up with Ray Brown at New York's Village Vanguard in the mid 1990s and toured throughout the U.S. and Europe.
To find more information about the musician and see videos of her performances, visit HollyHofmann.com.
Darin Fenger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6860.