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First Date by Flutology

Flutology is a group consisting of veterans Frank Wess, Holly Hofmann and Ali Ryerson. Together they offer compelling versions of originals as well as standards. Listening to three master flautists is a thrill in itself. With their own unique approach to the music, Flutology is a perfect example of the importance the flute has in Jazz. With the recent passing of Herbie Mann, now more than ever, the importance of the flute in jazz cannot be underestimated. This being Flutology's first release, First Date is a timely reminder that the flute has no problem in pushing the boundaries of Jazz.

With the Wofford arranged Charlie Parker vehicle Be Bop, we are swept away by the sheer energy of this threesome. Playing the melody at a relatively fast tempo, they each take turns at stretching out with driving solos. Wess is up first followed by Ryerson and then Hofmann. There is a flow to the playing that is not only appealing to the ear but uplifting as well.

One of the most beautiful compositions from trumpet great Lee Morgan, is given a sympathetic reading here. Ceora opens with a brief flute intro leading into another brief drum intro from Riley. The group settles into a laid back grove, with relaxing lines and gentle rhythms. Never outdoing one another, it's evident that the piece is what is important here. As a group, Flutology delivers.

With only one take, A Child Is Born is performed here with no chart or rehearsal. This is as close as you will get to live improvised jazz makeing this rendition all the more enjoyable. The flute is such a free sounding instrument. To have three of them working through this classic, makes this a gem that demands repeated listens. Hoffman and Ryerson's delicate, yet pointed style, compliment the more bebop driven manner in which Wess plays.

Pretty Is is an original from Wess. A beautiful ballad featuring a flowing intro from Washington, this waltz like number illustrates how gentle and delicate three flutes can sound. Each one taking a brief solo, before Wofford has a turn at the piano. Maintaining a smooth and relaxed feel throughout before all three flautists return in unison. There is a brief solo from Washington before the trio returns to take the piece out.

Over the years there have been many great artists that have recorded for Blue Note records. One if those was Hank Mobley. His sax playing was driven and inspired. These two words also describe his writing skills. This I Dig Of You is an upbeat number where the band has a chance to really heat things up. Riley's dependable drumming is evident throughout.

Holly Hofmann had a chance to tour with Ray Brown's band. This experience has made her not only a better player but also a better listener. Ali Ryerson has been studying Frank Wess for over twenty five years. And finally, we have the legendary Frank Wess who not only learned from the masters but played with them as well. Basie, Eckstine and Millinder to name but a few. Given the fact that they were able to choose the rhythm section for this date, makes this outing even more special. Even though this recording is satisfying, it is the culmination of these three flautists that is the icing on the cake.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Flutology
  • CD Title: First Date
  • Genre: Contemporary Jazz / Modern
  • Year Released: 2003
  • Record Label: Capri Records
  • Rating: Five Stars
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