Holly Hofmann, flute
April 17 @ 12:00 pm
Rob Thorsen will play bass and flute and Holly Hofmann will play flute and alto flute.
Holly Hofmann’s first memories as a musician are some of her fondest. At age 5 she would spend evenings playing a child’s flutophone, accompanying her father, a jazz guitarist, on standards from the Great American Songbook.
It was an auspicious beginning for the woman who, after years of studying her instrument and performing in classical ensembles, would find equally satisfying partnerships with such renowned jazzmen as Ray Brown, Frank Wess, Cedar Walton, Kenny Barron and many of other top names in the music.
Today, Holly Hofmann has taken the flute from its middle-of-the-orchestra origins and made it a front-line instrument in jazz. She has earned the praise and respect of musicians and jazz aficionados for her bluesy, bebop-based improvisations and technical prowess on an instrument that many once regarded as definitely not a jazz horn. Hofmann has proven them wrong and critics have labeled her one of the most authoritative, swinging flutists—male or female—in jazz today.
Born in Cleveland, Holly’s parents insisted she have a solid foundation in classical technique. After high school at the prestigious Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan, she gained her formal education through studies with the Cleveland Orchestra’s principal flutist Maurice Sharp. She then earned her B.A. in music from the Cleveland Institute of Music and her graduate degree from the University of Northern Colorado.
Following graduate studies in Colorado, Hofmann moved to San Diego, California in the late ‘80s and recorded her first CD Take Note with stalwarts Mike Wofford, Bob Magnusson and Sherman Ferguson for Capri Records. It was during her early years in San Diego that Hofmann began booking a fournight-a-week national jazz program at the Horton Grand Hotel for seven years, presenting hundreds of nationally acclaimed artists including Diana Krall, Cassandra Wilson, Tommy Flanagan, Cedar Walton and Joe Henderson.
In the mid ‘90s she also began performing nationally with pianist Bill Cunliffe, a partnership that led to several recordings in duo and other configurations for Cleveland-based Azica Records. They also recorded the critically acclaimed Live at Birdland in a quartet with bassist Ray Brown and drummer Victor Lewis.
Hofmann began working with the legendary Ray Brown at New York’s Village Vanguard in the late ‘90s and later toured throughout the United States and Europe with Brown’s trio as a guest artist. She credits Brown’s support as one of the major turning points in her career and recalls that each performance with him was a learning experience.
Hofmann and the highly respected pianist/arranger Mike Wofford married in 2000 and the two toured in various quartet settings including Brown, Lewis, Peter Washington and Ben Riley. The couple also toured and recorded with Flutology, an all-star sextet featuring Wess, Ali Ryerson and Hofmann on flutes, with Wofford, Washington and Riley. Norm Weinstein of All About Jazz called Flutology’s performance at the Kennedy Center, “singular and breathtaking.”
For their 2013 release, Turn Signal, Wofford wrote brilliant arrangements for a flute and trumpet front line with Holly and trumpet legend, Terell Stafford. Jazz Inside noted, “Wofford and Hofmann lead a veteran ensemble where concept and composition are key and attention to detail and interaction are paramount.” Her 2014 release on Capri Records is a one of a kind offering. Low Life: the Alto Flute Project features Mike Wofford, John Clayton, Jeff Hamilton and Anthony Wilson and shows Hofmann in a whole new light. George Varga, of the San Diego Union Tribune writes, “It strikes a seamless balance between note-perfect accuracy and in-the-moment fluidity.”
Holly remains involved with producing jazz concerts and clinics, something she feels musicians need to be involved in, and consults on several jazz parties and festivals, including the Oregon Coast Jazz Party and various jazz series in San Diego.
Jazz bassist Rob Thorsen maintains a diverse and busy schedule in Southern California as a performer, educator, clinician and composer. He has found his true voice in the upright bass and performs regularly as a leader with artists including the Mike Wofford/Holly Hofmann Quartet, Gilbert Castellanos, Charles McPherson, Steph Johnson and a host of others.
He has released six recordings as a leader, the most recent release, “Bass is the Space – Solos and Duos” featuring an array of jazz talents including Joshua White, Steph Johnson, Gilbert Castellanos and Marshall Hawkins in duo and solo performances. Recently released “So In Love” a 10-track album with his wife/lead vocalist Steph Johnson featuring songs from Cole Porter, Joni Mitchell, and others.
Jazz education plays an important role in his career. He teaches at Gilbert Castellanos Young Lions Jazz Conservatory, The La Jolla Athenaeums “The World Of Jazz” as well as teaching privately. In 2010 Thorsen created “Jazz an American Art Form,” a highly successful jazz educational program that features his quartet and is presented to over 8,000 students annually in primarily under-served communities. He is also involved with and performs with the Voices of Our City Choir, a soul-jazz choir created by his wife Steph Johnson for people experiencing homelessness in San Diego.
Free concerts at noon every other Monday from fall through spring . . . no wonder the Mini-Concerts are the longest-running and one of the most popular classical music series at the library! This series was founded by Glenna Hazleton in 1970 at the Athenaeum, and has been going strong ever since. The concerts feature both local and touring musicians, prize-winning students, university music faculty members, local chamber ensembles. . . and the repertoire also includes jazz, folk and world music. There are no reservations, no tickets . . . just line up at the side door of the Athenaeum before noon. (Donations are always welcome!) Mini-Concerts take place every other Monday at noon and last about an hour.
The concerts will be in person at the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library. There are no physical tickets for these events. Doors open at 11:50 a.m. Seating is first-come; first-served. These events will be presented in compliance with State of California and County of San Diego health regulations as applicable at the time of each concert.
Masks optional. If you have a fever, cough, or flu-like symptoms, please stay home.