"When Swedish sophistication meets Hungarian heat."
13 SEPTEMBER 2016
CD REVIEW 2016
Fine compositions. Singing with warmth and refreshing temperament.
feat. Paquito D´Rivera
Let´s Run Away
The Malmö-born Monika Hoffman has aquired a solid vocal training in both Sweden and at Berklee College of Music in Boston. During her time in the USA she has performed with artists such as Charlie Hayden. In Europe she has appeared in different musical contexts, not just of the jazzy kind. She has for example partaken in the Hungarian Eurovision Song Contest as her mother is Hungarian and she, apart from Swedish and English, also masters the Hungarian language.
Monika has previously released two albums in Hungary, one together with the renowned pianist Robert Lakatos. However, 'Let's Run Away' is the first one released on the Swedish market. Recorded in Boston, Hoffman is accompanied by an extraordinary quartet that normally surrounds saxophonist/clarinetist Paquito D'Rivera. Pianist Tim Ray, bassist and arranger Oscar Stagnaro and drummer Mark Walker who we also recognize from his collaboration with Michel Camilo. As Percussionist Oscar Stagnaro's son Paulo contributes as well. Also Paquito D'Rivera himself jumps in for two tracks, armed with his soprano saxophone and clarinette.
Monika has composed nine of the record's eleven songs, some of which are extremely skillful. So, even if she is an an exceptional singer I wonder if it's not Hoffman's ability as a composer that will let itself be heard of the most in the future. Maybe both. She has also written most of the lyrics - some with the help of her sister Erika.
The two numbers that aren't home made are Osvaldo Farrés and Joe Davis ”Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps” also, surprisingly, Håkan Norléns and Rune Lindström's ”Visa vid midsommartid”, one that Art Farmer and Jim Hall had tried their hand at 50 years prior. Here Hoffman sings in Swedish, as well as on "Underbara Du".
”Nem Látlak Többe” is performed in Hungarian but for the rest it's the English language that dominates.
Her singing is pervasively characterized with warmth and has a lovely temperament while Monika also has an expressive, beautiful voice and intonates perfectly. The repertoire she has chosen to serve on "Let's Run Away" has a overhanging latin feel which should be apparent due to the band lineup. After a certain point Hoffman doesn't just settle with singing. She also picks up the violin, an instrument she clearly shows that she masters.
Remember the name Monika Hoffman, and if you were to forget don't worry. You will with all certainty be reminded of in on many different occasions in the future!
CD REVIEW 2016
When Monika Hoffman plays the violin and sings in Hungarian on the melodramatic track 'Nem látlak többé' it's like the music takes a passionate leap and becomes more engaging.
Suddenly she has stepped out of the conventional Jazz vocalist role and found a more personal road to take as an artist.
The self-composed track 'Show Me' also featuling her violin promises good things to come in the future. Hoffman is a good Jazz vocalist with great range and the band is as smooth and complimentary as the Latin-Groove feel-good Jazz genre requires. The album is recorded in Boston featuting Latin-Jazz woodwind Paquito D'Riviera, dazzling us on two of the tracks. Pianist Tim Ray steps forward with fancy fingerwork in the old classic Cuban song 'Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps’.
24 SEPTEMBER, 2016
CONCERT REVIEW 2016
Cuban Jazz Pulse and a Grand Voice
Victoria Theater, Malmö 22/9
It may seem like a leap between the Hungarian Eurovision Song Contest and Jazz with top American musicians. However, Monika Hoffman takes it without even having to resort to any advanced acrobatics.
Her newly released USA-recorded album "Let's Run Away",featuring the sax and clarinet hero Paquito D'Rivera, is a hard throbbing and polished round of Latin Jazz, dominated by the Malmo singers well-written songs.
The band on the Thursday release concert matched the performance of the studio professionals'. Pianist Tim Ray, Mats Ingvarsson, Zoltan Csörsz och Anders Vestergård whipped out the well rehearsed rhythms with muscle and elegance and alto-saxophonist Klas Linquist visited from Stockholm with sounds as smooth as a flame kissing metal.
The Main character herself did some ear-pleasing violin licks.
Monika Hoffman has a grand voice and does not hold back on communicating thourughly with it. It is evident that Hoffman knows how to tackle the American music tradition as well as she has a firm grip on how to handle jazz, skilled at wordless improvisation and constantly varies her melody deliverance. To put is in simple terms, things keep happening in her singing.
A few emotional Hungarian songs (Hoffman is of Hungarian heritage) were added, as well as the old "Visa vid Midsommar Midsommartid" which in this case was relatively misplaced. The overall concept of the concert still felt seamless: melodic jazz-tunes with Cuban and sometime Brazilian notes and alternating arrangements. A clearly entertaining evening the audience might as well have danced though.
One particular complaint: way too little room was given to Tim Ray. The American, who is on the album and allured to perform here, is one of the sharpest and freshest pianists I have heard in a long time. He has that special attack, unfaltering and extremely "two handed" while sprinkling smart musical ideas over his few, short solos.
Get Ray his own Malmö concert!
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