Thursday, June 3, 2010

Holly Hoffman and Bill Cunliffe: Three's Company

Capri Records
By Ric Bang • Originally published in The Davis Enterprise, 6.3.10
Buy CD: Three's Company

Regular readers know that I lean toward hard-swinging instrumental and vocal jazz performers. That said, an album comes along every so often that — while not in my desired category — is intriguing enough to get noticed. Such is the case with this one.

Pianist Bill Cunliffe began as a classical musician, then expanded his horizons to include jazz; flutist Holly Hoffman followed the same path. Both also are composers and arrangers, and have known each other, and worked together, for more than 20 years. This duet album is their third.

They modified their usual instrumentation for this session. Four of the tunes are piano/flute duets, while the rest employ guest artists to produce unusual trios: two “horns” and piano; flute, violin and piano; and flute, piano and drums. The result is quite tasteful chamber jazz.

The guests include violinist Regina Carter, clarinetist Ken Peplowski, trumpeter Terell Stafford and drummer Alvester Garnett. The selections aren't free-for-alls; they're carefully arranged and quite musical, and they swing gently. Cunliffe composed half of them, while Hoffman wrote one; the others are covers of songs by Burton Lane, Billy Strayhorn and Gabriel Faure.

The resulting album is innovative, beautifully executed and genteel.

1 comment:

Stratoz said...

Love this CD, thanks for celebrating jazz