Amos Hoffman

Evolution

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    8
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Amos Hoffman's third solo release finds him playing much more oud than guitar, and a joy it is to hear him. The rich, sophisticated compositions are performed by a spare group (he's backed by percussion, flute, and bass/piano/vocals) that affords his playing plenty of room, and mixes his love of Middle Eastern music and jazz on these compositions. "Enayim," the opener, is a perfect case in point, with lovely, twining lines from bass and oud that extend like vines. It could be from nowhere other than the Eastern Mediterranean, yet with the lightness and openness of jazz -- the bass has as much freedom as the oud. Hoffman is an excellent composer, one who trusts his musicians and gives them their heads, and it pays off. There's plenty of melody, even though this is a group that works closer to the cutting edge than the mainstream. They can make a song like "I Met You" feel like a shaft of light on a cloudy day, and on the instances when Hoffman does move to guitar, the effect is to instantly Westernize the music -- which, used in moderation, brings an inverse taste of the exotic to this disc. It's good, very good indeed, possibly one of the most successful music fusions recorded.

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