This weekend at The JAZZ ROOM features the music of legendary jazz guitarist Kenny Burrell. To bring this music to the Stage Door Theater, the Jazz Arts Initiative welcomes South Carolina based guitar and oudist, Amos Hoffman. As Amos (pronounced AH-mus) prepares to join us on Friday, he took some time out to talk to JAI about his musical journey so far.
Amos’ relationship with the guitar began at a young age. “…I was drawn to it from a very young age. I was like really drawn to it and I really don’t know why I chose the guitar but I think that this is one of those things that nobody really knows.”
Amos’ knowledge of the strings doesn’t stop there though. Following his guitar training, he went on to learn the oud, a Middle Eastern ancestor of the guitar. “The oud is a string instrument that originated from the Persian culture. It moves from Persia, to all of the Middle East…From the Middle East, it moves to Europe and becomes the lute. The Lute was the father of the guitar.”
Not only does Hoffman play both instruments, but he is known as a pioneer in the fusing of the two sounds. While living in New York, a growing interest in his oud playing began when people would visit his home for rehearsals or gatherings. After hearing him play the oud his friends began suggesting he bringing it along to gigs. “So, I started bringing it and experimenting with that and because I am one of the only ones that I know of that can actually play traditionally both language, it is something that put me in a situation where I am known for being able to do both of them really good… I’m always trying to make them mix, to make a fusion – the fusion between the two styles.”
It is no wonder that Amos has such a diverse sound. He spent time traveling in his career to gain new musical experiences. “Well I was born in Israel but then I wanted to go to New York because I wanted to play as good as possible in straight ahead jazz. That pushed me to be as good as I can doing that. Then after I spent almost 10 years in New York, I moved back to Israel. I was getting fiercely into the Middle Eastern music so it was good to be in Israel to do that.”
With so many amazing musicians in the world, we wanted to know which was one of Amos’ favorites. “…I’ve got to say that the musician that I keep going back to and I’m never getting tired to listen to, and am always finding unique and surprising and never boring would be Thelonious Monk.”
If you’re wondering whether or not we will get to hear Amos play his oud this weekend, we have that covered. “Well I am going to be playing mainly guitar, say 98% guitar. But I am going to bring my oud if there’s going to be a little crack in the system where I can do something with it, I am definitely going to try and do it.”
See Amos in The JAZZ ROOM Friday, July 13 at 6 and 8:15pm and Saturday, July 14 at 7 and 9:15pm.