Tel Aviv-based guitarist and oudist Amos Hoffman started playing guitar at the age of 6, and oud at a few years later. He studied guitar privately, and attended the prestigious Rubin Academy of Music in Jerusalem. His search for new musical experiences led him first to Amsterdam, and then to New York City, where he performed and recorded with both legendary jazz musicians such as Denis Charles, Evelyn Blakey, and Jumma Santos, as well as with emerging jazz artists such as Jason Linder, Omer Avital, Sam Newsome, Jay Collins, Jorge Rossy, Duane Eubanks, and Avishai Cohen. He also began a more formal study of Middle Eastern music with Lebanese oud and ney player, Bassam Saba.
Hoffman can be heard on numerous recordings, including Ben Wolfe’s 13 Sketches (1997,) Jay Collins’ Cross Culture (1999,) and Sam Newsome’s Sam Newsome and Global Unity (1999.) He has worked with bassist/composer Avishai Cohen for several years, playing both guitar and oud on Cohen’s Continuo (2006,), Colors (2000,) Devotion (1999,) and Adama (1998.)
His long-time association with Cohen resulted in the release of his newest project, Evolution, on the bassist’s Razdaz Records. With a lineup that includes Cohen on contrabass, and two of Israel’s most prominent musicians – ethnic percussionist Ilan Katchka and flautist Ilan Salem – Evolution is an expressive and breathtaking compilation of original music. Combining Middle Eastern inspired melodies played by oud and flute, and African rhythms played by contrabass and percussion, Hoffman infuses the already exotic mix with a jazz sensibility that combines the different styles of music, while remaining true to the essence of each.
Evolution is Hoffman’s third solo release, following The Dreamer, released in 1998 on the Spanish label Fresh Sound/New Talent, and Na’ama, which he released in 2006 on the Israeli label Magada.
Now back in his homeland of Israel, where he has lived since 1999, Hoffman’s focus on the oud has expanded beyond playing and composing to encompass building the fretless instruments; On Evolution, as on Na’ama, the oud he plays is one he built himself.