I suspect that most jazz listeners go through a similar process the first time they hear Hinda Hoffman. First you realize that she improvises sparingly at best; she doesn’t scat, and she takes few detours in her readings of standard selections from the American Popular Songbook. Next you get over expectations of said improvising, and that opens you up for stage three: “What a voice.” Hoffman has a rich ruby instrument, dark and full and at times gleaming; like Dexter Gordon’s tenor or Jim Hall’s guitar, it would attract attention even if she had no idea what to do with it. Luckily she does have an idea, though she’s just begun to work it through. As demonstrated by her appearance at last year’s jazz festival–and again on her self-produced debut, You Are There (on the self-explanatory Got No label)–Hoffman has to push her style further than her voice alone will take her. She radiates an affecting, introspective ache on her ballads, and she carries a light and persuasive swing on many of her up-tempo tunes. At the moment that’s about all there is, and though it stands her in good stead among singers in general, one hopes that Hoffman will eventually take a more adventurous approach to her material and offer a deeper evocation of the emotions she now touches on. Her style resembles that of Rosemary Clooney, a singer with a similar range who rarely improvises but who has earned plaudits from jazz traditionalists for the unerring accuracy of her phrasing and the uncanny balance in her interpretative stance. Keep an ear on Hoffman; she has much of what it takes. And in the meantime, what a voice. Friday, 10 PM, Bop Shop, 1807 W. Division; 235-3232. NEIL TESSER

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): uncredited photo.