Born: April 16, 1961 Primary Instrument: Piano
Marc Hoffman, a native of North Carolina, received a degree in composition from the North Carolina School of the Arts, and did additional study in film composition at the University of Southern California. He also studied at The Dartington International Summer School of Music in Devon, England with composer-in-residence Harrison Birtwhistle. His composition teachers have included Sherwood Shaffer, David Ott, Leo Arnaud, and Neil Hefti. He is a member of BMI, the American Composer's Forum, and the National Association for Music Education.
After establishing himself as a composer of film, theatre, pop, and gospel music, Marc began pursuing his passion for jazz in the early 1990s. As a pianist and vocalist Marc performs over 75 dates a year with a repertoire of original jazz and his own arrangements of standards, ballads, and pop. He most often performs with his trio including Terry Peoples on bass and Gray Fallin on drums, but works as a soloist and with other ensembles as well at concerts, festivals, and other public and private events....
Dionne Maldonado, Cool Ambiance, WFSS-FM I loved this CD — every track! I’m overjoyed to include Curioso and to front sell Marc as one of North Carolina’s artists to look out for in 2011. He’s right up there with Tom Grant.”
Gary Dalkin, Film Music on the Web: “Hoffman brings a light, fluid grace to his eloquent improvisations, the tone largely optimistic though shot through with an enquiring spirit which adds an intriguing melodic quirk to the disc.”...A couple more discs like this, and his infectious, melodic writing and polished musicianship will surely start to win him a serious following. - review of Curioso
Hoffman proves you can go home again...nine original piano pieces in a style that might be described as somewhere between the contemporary approach of Windham Hill with a nod in the direction of Aaron Copland... - review of Long Way Home
Preston Ryback, Shore Club Studios, Vancouver: ‘Hefti’ is one of those great tunes that is instantly recognizable within 2-4 notes (of the opening lick) — no easy achievement, and very satisfying!”
London Guardian: ...the Hollywood impressions of Marc Hoffman's Third Age made some pieces on the program seem stale and derivative. - review of The Third Age
Marc Hoffman: Curioso: Virillion VM0416-5 Review: Gary Dalkin
North Carolina based musician, composer, songwriter Marc Hoffman may just be too talented for his own good. At least for a world which expects artists to do one thing, then keep doing it over with minimal variation equating to maximum commercial gain. Hoffman gifts range from contemporary classical composer to singer-songwriter via film composer, to say nothing of developing an acclaimed series of guitar tutorials and recently penning his first children’s book.
Curioso states its aim simply and definitively. It’s a jazz album delivering 11 Hoffman originals with the disc produced by Hoffman, who performs piano, keyboards, percussion and occasional vocals. Long Way Home (VH-04613), a solo piano disc which featured some jazz flavoured numbers is the closest precedent in Hoffman’s back catalogue, but here he presents a much more ambitious project with an accomplished band comprising John Sharp (guitars), Terry Peoples (bass guitar), Tim Gordon (sax), Gray Fallin (drums/percussion) and Mike Lanier (drums/percussion: two tracks only).
It’s worth taking note of these musicians, who may not be household names but are talents of a high order. It is testament to Hoffman’s music that he is able to attract the likes of John Sharpe, who has played or recorded with The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Jimmy Buffett, Brook Benton, The Diamonds, performed widely with various bands in Europe and released the well- received solo album Better Than Dreams. Sharpe shared a Grammy nomination for writing the title track of drums/percussion maestro Jim Brock’s album Pasajes, touring through the 1990’s with Brock’s band.
As well as being a permanent member of Nashville’s Mr Groove and a leading session musician for artists across America, Tim Gordon tours regularly with The Four Tops and The Temptations. Terry Peoples played bass for the jazz pianist Loonis McGlohan. In more recent years he has been an international freelance musician, recording with artists such as Mike Campbell and Eileen Farrell. Mike Lanier is an NC native most notably associated with The Breeze Band while Gray Fallin is a stalwart of The Brubakers.
From the onset Curioso is characterised by strong melody, concentrated rhythm and tight instrumental interplay, question and answer dialogues deftly shifting between piano, sax or guitar. Hoffman brings a light, fluid grace to his eloquent improvisations, the tone largely optimistic though shot through with an enquiring spirit which adds an intriguing melodic quirk to the disc. The opening two numbers, ‘Hefti’, in homage to Neil, and ‘G Min’ compliment one another as up-beat group pieces, ‘Introspective’ adding a touch of breezy melancholy to what is essentially a piano piece with percussion backing. ‘Dog Days’ is a very laid-back number, the relaxed guitar workout and electric piano moving into drivetime- smooth jazz territory.
Hoffman conducts a lyrical dialogue with himself on ‘Q’, the vibrant melody which is eventually picked- up by electric guitar having an almost cinematic sense of the freedom of wide open spaces. ‘Bender’, written in memory of a friend who died suddenly in the summer of 2007, celebrates a spirit as much as it mourns a loss, a tenderness running though the music which refuses to surrender to darkness. ‘Theme #2’ is virtually a solo piano piece accompanied by very low-key percussion and bass. Here Hoffman showcases a rich melody through a series of brief variations which have the quality of classic Americana, from old-time hymns to Coplandesque expanse. One can imagine this orchestrated as a the valedictory finale to an Oscar-nominated home-town drama. ‘Thumbs’ has a sassy syncopated swagger and feather-light lilt which suggests, at least for a moment, all is well in the world. Though Hoffman would never claim to be a Pat Metheny fan ‘Aila Leya’ bears the Metheny hallmarks of stratospheric, processed vocals over electric guitar (think of Metheny’s Imaginary Day period), the number morphing into the kind of synth workout one might expect from Bela Fleck on one of his band albums with Futureman, or perhaps Rick Wakeman grooving away on a 70’s Yes classic. Unfortunately its all over too soon, something which might be said of several tracks on this disc, which rather than outstay their welcome expire before they have reached their full potential. One might hope for Hoffman to push his material further into some really extended improvisations. ‘Curioso’ is an amiable stroll though classic piano, bass, drums jazz trio territory, while the closing ‘Pontified’ pays uplifting tribute to Jean Luc.
Curioso is a strong, diverse album which really demonstrates that, talented as Hoffman is in other areas, jazz is his true forte. A couple more discs like this, especially if he gains the confidence to develop some more expansive, exploratory tracks, and his infectious, melodic writing and polished musicianship will surely start to win him a serious following.
Hoffman Branches Out, March 10, 2008 By P. E. Garrett (Travelers Rest, SC, USA)
Marc Hoffman is nothing if not versatile. He is a performer and composer as well as an educator. Though having written and performed in many genres, and for the screen, orchestra and solo performance among others, his latest endeavor, released on his own Virillion label, is titled simply Curioso.
But simple is not a suitable adjective for this fresh and diverse recording. With Curioso, Mr. Hoffman, who wrote the charts, and produced the disc in his studio not far from Charlotte, NC, shows a maturity that comes from years of experience in performance and composition.
The opening track, HEFTI features the spirited sax playing of Tim Gordon in an upbeat piece that is a good jumping off point for the rest of the album. Marc's piano virtuosity is highlighted on G min, a song reminiscent of the 60's era Cool School. The evocative Introspective will probably have you hitting the repeat button on your CD player a few times.
That Marc was able to attract world class musicians the likes of the Grammy nominated guitarist Sharpe, and Gordon, the perennial Four Tops' saxophonist to the sleepy little micropolis of Salisbury, NC speaks well of his stature as a musician. He explores many different styles here ending with a jazz violin piece dedicated to Jean luc Ponty.
This disc will find a nice home in your car's player and may be there for the long haul.
Tracks: Hefti; G Min; Introspective; Aila Leya; Q; Bender; Theme #2; Thumbs; Dog Days; Curioso; Pontified.
Personnel: Marc Hoffman: piano/vocal. Time Gordon: sax. John Sharp: guitar. Terry Peoples: bass. Nathan Scott: bass Gray Fallin: drums/percussion. Mike Lanier: drums/percussion Ryan Scott: drums.
As A Side Musician
Tracks: Track; Track.
Personnel: Name: instrument.
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Willing to teach:
Advanced students only.
Private teacher for over 20 years. Artistic Director of the Salisbury School of Music in NC. Teaches Tue. - Thur. afternoons when not on the road.
"Music Is..." is a fast-paced one hour talk/presentation comparing classical music form to the form of a three minute "pop" song. Presentation "On Film Music" is a brief history of film music and the mechanics of the art form. Marc is a featured performer and speaker at seminars and conventions throughout the US.