This is the fourth duo album that Hofmann has released, three of them with Cunliffe and one with Mike Wofford. (Given that she is married to Wofford, this must reflect the respect she has for Bill Cunliffe's playing--not to mention the strength of her marriage to Mike, himself an accomplished pianist and gifted arranger!)
Submitting to economic realities, in common with many other jazz players these days, Hofmann finds herself working frequently in a duo setting, rather than the more ideal quartet or quintet. Wisely, however, Holly has turned this liability into an asset, developing the art of duo performance into a distinct voice of its own. For Three's Company, Hofmann and Cunliff create a change of pace by adding guest artists on four tracks, drummer Alvester Garnett, Garnett's wife, award-winning violinist Regina Carter, trumpeter Terell Stafford, and clarinet master Ken Peplowski.
The duo tracks demonstrate the diversity of form and color that Hofmann and Cunliffe draw from the flute/piano combination, aided by their original compositions and Cunliff's deft touch as an arranger. The guest artists, and the unusual instrumental combinations they create with the duo, add further variety to a session that never fails to hold the interest. These are first-rate jazz artists at the top of their game, with Hofmann's agile flute work and Cunliff's unerring musical intelligence evident every step of the way.
Anyone interested either in the flute in jazz, or the art of duo performance, would do well to get hold of this recording, as well as Holly's previous efforts in this genre, Just Duet, vols. 1 & 2 with Cunliffe, and Live at Athenaeum with Wofford, all of which can be found at www.hollyhofmann.com. They perfectly demonstrate how a duo can be more than just a quartet without bass and drums, as well as what players with a classical as well as jazz background can bring to this music. Check out Cunliffe's site also. If you are a fan of jazz piano and are not familiar with his work, you need to rectify that immediately. For great examples of his writing my personal favorites are How My Heart Sings and Imaginacion.