Relying on his skills as a composer, trumpet/flügelhorn/piano player Dave Hoffman presents a CD of jazz music from bebop and post-bop to bossa nova and mambo. Regardless of the style, most of the tunes are presented in a relaxed, somewhat routine manner. The music comes from two separate recording sessions, one in Chicago and the other in San Diego, with two different but equally facile sets of musicians. Of the musicians Hoffman has brought into the studio, one is 17-year-old tenor player Doug Stone. His expertise on the tenor, even at such a relatively young age, is heard to good effect as he trades fours and choruses with Hoffman on the album's kickoff tune, "Groovin' With the Farns." Matters turn Latin with a thoughtful "April in Perris" as Hoffman picks up the mellower flügelhorn and shows his hand on the piano. Sharing the stage with another tenor sax player, this time Hollis Gentry, Hoffman ruminates on and roams through ideas for more than nine minutes, eventually running out of things to say. One of the loveliest pieces from the set is a Hoffman piano solo on "In the Circle of Your Arms." One of the rare upbeat tunes is "North Pole Cha Cha," which has some fine ensemble work. But even here, there is no clarion call to arms, little excitement, and hardly any creative tension. "Monday Night With Larry at Croce's" gets somewhat more animated, with several fine solos. This CD would have benefited from more cuts like this one. It's not that this is an unsatisfactory jazz session. It's just that with the obvious high quality of all the participants, it's a shame more wasn't demanded of them.
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AllMusic Review by Dave Nathan