Tobi Hofmann

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Most musicians who play the electric organ choose the venerable Hammond brand, or on occasion the Farfisa. Tobi Hofmann has chosen the Hohner, whose sound typified elevator music or the bachelor pad style of Esquivel. Paired with tenor saxophonist Ulrich Wangenheim and a guitar-bass-drums complement, the group combines contemporary light funk with Brazilian rhythms to base their style. The repertoire is chosen from a series of movie themes, rock and pop songs, and a little jazz. What comes out is a whimsical and cute but derivative, marginally curious, and minimally substantive music. The organ, with its cheesier tinny vibrato, slogs alongside Wangenheim's Stan Getz-ian tenor to cakewalk through the Righteous Brothers samba flavored "Make It Easy on Yourself," the Blood, Sweat & Tears rock-funk number "Spinning Wheel," and a go go take of the Rolling Stones "Satisfaction." Film tunes such as "Diamonds Are Forever," "Theme from the I.M.P.C.R.E.S.S. Files," and Henry Mancini's obscure "Sally's Tomato" range from easy Latin funk to soul ballad to straight samba. The Eddie Harris tune "Boogie Woogie Bossa Nova" is neither, instead it is treated as a bluesy swinger, while Dizzy Gillespie's classic "Groovin' High" turns into a modified Brazilian bopper. Of the few originals, "Likschasch" feels like a cop on Stanley Turrentine's "Sugar," and "Club Europa" combines Keystone Cops kitsch with klezmer. Only the intro track "Whisper Not" shows real promise with its boogaloo elements before the program bogs into a plaything. Some should find this fun, perhaps whimsical, and even somewhat unique, but most serious jazz fans probably will hear it as cartoonish, bordering on easy listening background Muzak.

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