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ALBUM REVIEW: "Back to the City"


Amos Hoffman

"Back to the City"


Amos Hoffman is one of those great, old-fashioned Kenny Burrell-style guitarists. His latest album, "Back to the City," showcases his brisk and breezy style on a winning combination of originals and standards. Along for the ride for much of the album are Omer Avital, bass; Duane Eubanks, trumpet; Vince Ector, drums; Asaf Yuria, saxophone; and Itai Kriss, flute. Hoffman has come a long way since arriving in New York from Jerusalem in the early 1990's and playing in subway stations. It wasn't long before he was working with bassist Avishai Cohen, singer Claudia Acuna, and others.

Hoffman, who is also a virtuoso oud player, has spent years back in the Middle East, and has established an international reputation. But on "Back to the City," he plays nothing but straight-ahead jazz (with a little bit of blues on his "Alone in South Carolina"). Other originals, like the title tune and "Mr. X," are glorious hard-bop romps for the whole band, but it's also nice to hear Hoffman's solo takes on a complex Thelonious Monk composition like "Pannonica" or a beautiful standard like "Darn That Dream."