San Diego flute virtuoso Holly Hofmann is also a noted concert promoter, and her latest series, which celebrates trios for the Happy Hour at the Handlery Hotel in Mission Valley, recently marked a year in business when she joined vibraphonist Jim Plank and bassist Bob Magnusson in a rare hometown show under the leadership of Plank.
The trio began with the standard “Broadway,” fueled by the stutter-step propulsion of Magnusson and the sparse chords of Plank, which allowed Hofmann to layer hip melodic strands above the fray. Don Grolnick’s “Night Song,” followed, featuring Hofmann’s lithe and vivacious alto flute supported by the protean pulse of the bass. She closed the tune out with a really sweet cadenza.
Plank’s arrangement of “How 'bout You?” reveled in the glorious sound of Magnusson playing in two, which generates an irresistible swing. The leader’s velvet mallets then led Hofmann into a bluesy reverie.
Everyone’s bebop chops got stretched on a heated version of Sonny Rollins’s “Pent-up House,” where Plank’s mallets stirred up clouds of groove, and Magnusson seemed to “walk” from Mission Valley to Detroit, while Hofmann quoted numerous tenets of blues ideology.
That ideology reached a zenith on Wes Montgomery’s “Movin’ Along,” which showcased everyone’s commitment to swinging through the universal language of the blues, including a bravura spot from the dark-honeyed sound of Magnusson, and a hilarious “vocal” performance from Plank, which morphed into an appropriately Milt Jackson-esque moment at the vibes.
In sum, it was a display of effortless groove from three masters of the music.
Robert Bush is a freelance jazz writer who has been exploring the San Diego improvised music scene for more than 30 years. Follow him on Twitter @robertbushjazz. Visit The World According to Rob.