Jazz CD Reviews

Mike Wofford/Holly Hofmann Quintet – Turn Signal (with Terell Stafford) – Capri Records 74111 *****:
Pamela Sklar & group – A Native American Jazz Tribute – self

A pair of widely different jazz flute CDs.

Published on June 23, 2013

Mike Wofford/Holly Hofmann Quintet – Turn Signal (with Terell Stafford) – Capri Records 74111 *****:</br>Pamela Sklar & group – A Native American Jazz Tribute – self

Mike Wofford/Holly Hofmann Quintet – Turn Signal (with Terell Stafford) (TrackList follows) – Capri Records 74111 *****:

(Holly Hofmann – flute, alto flute, piccolo; Terell Stafford – trumpet, Flugelhorn; Mike Wooford – piano; Rob Thorsen – bass; Richard sellers – drums)

Pamela Sklar & group – A Native American Jazz Tribute (TrackList follows) – self ****:

(Pamela, Sklar – alto & bass flute, piccolo; Sarah Davol – English horn; John Arrucci – percussion & toms; William Anderson – guitar; Richard Locker – cello; Steven Hartman – clarinet; Kurt Coble – violin & bongos; Leo Grinauz, cello; Linda Finegan – violin; Jay Shulman – cello; Chritopher D. Sullivan – bass; Bob Meyer – drums)

Fans of jazz flute don’t have a lot of performers today in their area. The last CD from Frank Wess didn’t even have a single track on flute, just all sax.  Holly Hofmann, along with Hubert Laws, is probably one of the few jazz flutists active today. (Herbie Mann left us a few years ago.) Holly specializes in jazz flute and plays it with a strong approach on the uptempo numbers that never makes one think of the delicate female flutist. She’s worked with Ray Brown, Kenny Barron, Bill Cunliffe, Houston Person, Regina Carter and many other figures in jazz, and she teaches jazz and flute. She is also music director of the annual Jazz Party at Newport, OR.

Holly is married to noted jazz pianist Mike Wofford, who also wrote the note booklet for this recent CD for Capri, for which she has done a number of albums now. They live in San Diego. Wofford was part of the Lighthouse All-Stars and had been musical director for both Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan. There’s no explanation of the album’s title, but Holly and Mike each have an original tune among the seven here. Mike’s “The Dipper” opens the CD and refers to Horace Silver, who made a lasting impression on him and manages to “dip” the listener into some “grease” in all his tunes. Holly’s tune, which closes out the album, is a shortening of the name for their dog (Emily/M-Line), who is named after the great young jazz guitarist Emily Remler, who died in 1990. “Soul Street “ was penned by tenor saxist Jimmy Forrest and is a tribute to the late Oliver Nelson, who whom Wofford had worked. “The Girl from Greenland” really caught my eye on this CD, because it’s from another jazz great who died way too early: pianist Richard Twardzik. Mike says Twardzik had a tremendous influence on him at an early age. And on me too. Trumpeter Terell Stafford adds a nice touch to the tracks, and Wofford was the arranger and leader of the session.

TrackList:  The Dipper (for Horace Silver), Esperanca, Karita, Soul Street, Pure Imagination, The Girl from Greenland, M-Line

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I’ve never had much of a taste for Native American music, though I admire other aspects of their culture. I do like the only authentic Native American music to make it to the Billboard pop charts: Jim Pepper’s “Witchi Tai To.”  Now here’s some more very listenable music that straddles world music and jazz. Flutist Pamela Sklar has produced this album which puts together Native American musical styles and jazz that have engaged her imagination and soul. She improvises on various sorts of flutes and has the simple backing of usually just one or two of the other chamber music players on each of the nine selections in her tribute. And a couple are just for her solo unaccompanied flute. The longest track is nearly 12 minutes and features her various flutes plus the percussion of John Arrucci. I especially liked “Wood Spirit,” for flute, violin and cello. A portion of the proceeds from the CD go to a charity which serves over 75 reservations around the U.S.

TrackList:  Heritage, Coniferous Forest, From the Land, Remember, Eventually, In a Minute!, Flute Shadows, Wood Spirit, A Tune for America

—John Henry




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