Central Illinois Jazz Society
The David Hoffman Sextet
March 21, 2004
Review of the Jazz Society Concert
A breath of fresh air sneaked (or is that snuck-I can never remember!) its way into the Peoria Castle Lodge at last month’s CIJS concert. Although spring began to rear its revitalized head somewhat early this uncharacteristically warm March day, I’m not talking about the weather here. Rather, I speak of an ever-pleasing performance by the David Hoffman Sextet.
The sextet was a reunion of sorts. Dave, of course, fronted the group on trumpet and flugelhorn, and he welcomed several of his favorite musical comrades to join him onstage. Doug Stone, native Peorian-turned-Chicagoan, bellowed some boisterous tenor sax lines throughout the evening, Kevin Hart added a bit of unique flavor on the vibraphone, and Mike Nellas (guitar), Andy Crawford (bass), and Tom Marko (drums) were top choices for the rhythm section. Although Dave, Doug, Kevin, and Mike have played together for years, Andy and Tom were relatively new additions to the group.
But you sure wouldn’t have guessed this. These guys sounded as if they’d been playing together for decades.
Part of the unique vibe that evening was due to the fact that Dave pieced together a performance of almost entirely original material, featuring a handful of Central Illinois’ finest composers. Represented appropriately by many of his own compositions, including Five Love Bison (Dave himself asks us not to question this title), an energetic bop tune based on the changes to jazz standard There Will Never Be Another You; Last Train to Tottori, inspired by a lengthy (yet obviously thoughtful) train ride in Japan; and a few brand-new tunes, Night and Dave, Just a Little Melody, and Two-Lane to Tou-lon. Dave’s original songs provide an optimistic glimpse into the state of this music today, insisting that although jazz may not reign in any popularity contest, it’s certainly far from lifeless.
Original compositions by other local musicians echo this idea. Two of Kevin’s songs were featured, including the whimsical Hello Blackberry and driving Blues from the Hartland. Former Champaign-based trumpeter and composer John “Doc” Scott’s I’m Drifting Apart also pitched in to round out an assortment of up-tempo tunes.
It was wonderful to be treated to original music by local musicians. Everyone in attendance surely got the message that great jazz is still being written and performed-and received assurance that we don’t necessarily have to go to Chicago or New York to hear it. We just need continue supporting it, which in turn will keep it accessible. Great job, Dave and pals, and we look forward to future performances of equal greatness.
The CIJS House Band, led by talented saxophonist (…and clarinetist and pianist…) Larry Harms, welcomed a variety of musicians to the stage in between the featured group’s sets. Randy Emert (bass) and John Larson (drums) filled in full-time in the rhythm section while Mike Nellas and Andy Crawford alternated tunes on guitar. Dave Hoffman, sporting his piano chops this time, also joined the band for jazz standard favorites such as Groovin’ High and Girl From Ipanema. Beverly Barnes lent her tasteful vocals to The More I See You and Fly Me to the Moon, and teenage tenor man Adam Larson stepped up to join in on the fun. And speaking of fun, don’t forget that this festive event occurs regularly! The CIJS House Band and various featured guest bands perform at the Peoria Castle Lodge each month-hope to see you next time!