"Na'ama" Reviews

Na'ama, named after Hoffman's daughter, is his second solo release after The Dreamer (Fresh Sound, 1999), and is built on original compositions, most of them referencing traditional Arabic maqams or scales. Unlike Youssef, Hoffman doesn't try to discover new musical territory, but still, his unassuming and straightforward playing finds new colors in the oud. The tender accompaniment of bass player Omer Avital and percussionist Rea Bar Nes, the latter especially while playing the marimba, offers Hoffman great flexibility. On the captivating ”Na'ama,” Hoffman and Bar Nes improvise on a simple lullaby melody, while on “Longa Abu Musa” they stretch the traditional form of the longa into a swift run of solos. The twelve short tracks on Na'ama don't deviate to a significant degree from traditional oud playing or tune structures, but they showcase a highly gifted player, who successfully combines his Western musical education with one of his homeland's musical traditions.” - Eyal Hareuveni

All About Jazz

The album features somewhat surprising instrumentation, including violin, bass, and marimba – the latter being a rather original choice for this sort of musical context. Hoffman’s compositions are noticeably influenced by traditional Arabic music, while primarily exploring an individualistic mix of jazz and pop. The gentle textures and rhythms soothe and invigorate. While he’s still a guitar player and teacher, the oud is how Hoffman chooses to make his mark here. In fact, Na’ama is devoid of guitar. This is an understated, but unique and therefore memorable album.” - Paula Kirman

Global Rhythm