Holly Hofmann spent evenings at age five playing a flutophone with 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 classical music would find satisfying partnerships with renowned jazzmen 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 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 in jazz today.
Born in Cleveland, Holly’s parents insisted she have a solid foundation in classical technique. She studied with the Cleveland Orchestra’s principal flutist Maurice Sharp, and earned her B.M. in music from the Cleveland Institute of Music and an M.M. from the University of Northern Colorado. Hofmann moved to San Diego in the late ‘80s and recorded her first national CD in 1989. Here, Hofmann began booking a national jazz series at the Horton Grand Hotel for seven years, presenting hundreds of nationally acclaimed artists including Diana Krall, Tommy Flanagan, Joe Henderson and Benny Carter.
In the mid ‘90s she also began performing with pianist Bill Cunliffe, a partnership that led to several duo recordings on 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 Brown at New York’s Village Vanguard in the late ‘90s and later toured throughout the US and Europe with Brown’s trio as a guest artist.
Hofmann and the highly respected pianist/arranger Mike Wofford married in 2001 and the two began touring and recording together with Peter Washington and Victor Lewis, as well as with Flutology, an all-star sextet featuring Frank Wess, Ali Ryerson and Hofmann on flutes, with Washington and Ben Riley. Their recent recordings include 2013’s Turn Signal, featuring Wofford’s brilliant arrangements for a flute and trumpet front line with Holly and trumpet great, Terell Stafford. Her 2015 release on Capri Records is Low Life: The Alto Flute Project which 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.”
Hofmann also teaches jazz and flute and conducts master classes at schools and universities around the country. She is on the Board of Directors at Keynote Jazz Foundation which provides concerts and clinics in high schools and middle schools in the United States.
With twelve recordings as a leader in the duo or quartet setting, Holly Hofmann is
earning respect for the flute as a jazz instrument. Audiences and promoters recognize her as one of the premiere jazz flutists in the world, and alto great Phil Woods, while describing her performance at the Telluride Jazz Festival, said “Along with Hubert Laws, Holly is frankly the best jazz flute player today.”
She has become the standard by which jazz flute is being judged.
President, Capri Records