One of the most unique instrumentalists in jazz and world music, Amos Hoffman (pronounced ah-moos) plays the guitar and oud. Born April 19, 1970, in Jerusalem, Israel, his parents were not involved in music, but his father was a sculptor and painter, so various artistic pursuits were encouraged. Hoffman started playing guitar at the age of six as a classical musician. On his eighth birthday, his father gave him an oud as a present. He never studied the oud formally, but taught himself. While at the Rubin Academy of Music in Jerusalem, he spent less time studying and instead started to pursue performance opportunities at the age of 17. Early influences for Hoffman included Louis Armstrong, Ray Charles, and Stevie Wonder.
He lived for a time in Amsterdam, Holland, in a discovery mode, then at the age of 20 he left for New York and briefly enrolled at the New School. For the next ten years, Hoffman collaborated with jazz musicians such as Denis Charles, Sam Newsome, Jumma Santos, Jason Lindner, Omer Avital, Jay Collins, Ben Wolfe, and Evelyn Blakey, and started a prominent relationship in the bands of bassist Avishai Cohen. He also recorded his debut album, The Dreamer, for the Fresh Sound/New Talent label with Jorge Rossy and Duane Eubanks. During his stay in New York, he studied oud and maqam with Lebanese ney and oud player Bassam Saba.
In 1999, he returned to Israel to live in Tel Aviv, and he continues to perform worldwide and teach, sometimes playing with visiting musicians Maucha Adnet and Papa Noel. Hoffman has explored his Ashkenazi/Eastern European roots, and composed the music for his Na'ama album, released in 2006 on Magda Records. On Na'ama, Hoffman pays homage to the traditions of classical Arabic music -- the taqasim (improvisation) and the maqam (scales). The original compositions are inspired by the great Arab composers of the 20th century. Further pursuing his passion for combining jazz with Middle Eastern music, the RazDaz label album Evolution is an exploration of melodies and rhythms that incorporate compositional and improvisational elements common to both musical genres, featuring Avishai Cohen and two of Israel's most prominent musicians -- ethnic percussionist Ilan Katchka and flute player Ilan Salem. ~ Michael G. Nastos
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