Low Life

Subtitled “The Alto Flute Project,” Low Life, the 10th CD by flutist Holly Hofmann, was designed to be an “album someone could put on to play at dinner … an easy-listening album that's still great jazz,” and I must say this goal has been beautifully realized. In the liner notes Hofmann points out that the alto flute “has a limited range, so you have to say more with less notes.” Having the record label's A-team rhythm section on board is a huge assist and the help she gets from pianist Mike Wofford, bassist John Clayton and drummer Jeff Hamilton is incalculable. Selections include Clayton's “Touch the Fog,” a haunting tune that seems to share some of the mystery of fog, especially near the end when the composer's bass comes tip-toeing in; Hofmann's magisterial “Lumière de la Vie,” a classically inspired number that subtly shifts between several time signatures and spotlights Hofmann's magnificent tone; Mulgrew Miller's Latin-flavored “Soul-Leo”; and Clayton's bouncy “Cedar Would,” written to honor Cedar Walton—like Miller, a member of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers—and featuring guitarist Anthony Wilson adding some tasty muscle. Ray Noble's “The Very Thought of You” is a charming low-key duet featuring Hofmann and Wofford—her husband of 13 years. Closing this remarkable CD is Pat Metheny's semi-mournful “Farmer's Trust.”