When a young European jazz musician gains ground in the USA it is for a reason. And in this case you will immediately hear the reason.
Pianist, Florian Hoefner, born 1982 in Nuremberg (also known as a member of the very successful German group Subtone) who has been living in New York City since 2008 does not only play the piano in a clear, concise and atmospherically dense way but also writes amazingly beautiful compositions. Both is on ample display on his recent release “Songs Without Words” that Florian Hoefner recorded in a quartet setting with saxophonist Mike Ruby, bassist Sam Anning and drummer Peter Kronreif. The line-up is Hoefner’s New York based group.
“Songs Without Words’: a title like this is in the air with contemporary jazz – it does not refer to Mendelssohns “Songs Without Words” but rather to a current trend. In the last couple of years many young jazz musicians have cultivated their love to “songs”. That is: Lyrical lines – or singable melodies with or without vocalists involved – are an important phenomenon in today’s jazz. Many musicians commit to catchy and recognizable melodies again and would not be offended if you would call some of their songs earworms.
Earworms on a very high level
On this CD you will exclusively hear his originals, eight in total, and most of these pieces have very catchy heads but at same time are always full of sophisticated details – so that aficionados won’t be bored and everybody else will still gain immediate access to this music. As a listener you can just drop yourself into some of the piano harmonies and saxophone cantilenas – so in the very first track “Cross Hill”, in which the tenor saxophone finds a long lyrical breath over partially shaded harmonies and floaty rhythms. Between this piece and the almost rocky groove of the almost magnetic final piece “Behind the Sun” lie pieces like “Uncertain Times” that develops over rapidly deployed tone chains and the maybe strongest of all, “Ankunft” that spins melodic lines over a pulsating rhythm subtly advancing always a loop farther than you would expect.
All in all it’s a treat for your ears – which Florian Hoefner’s quartet members play an important part in. For me a discovery: saxophonist, Mike Ruby, born 1987 in Toronto. He has an immensely sensual and at the same time subtle tone both, on tenor and soprano saxophone. Australian bassist Sam Anning and Salzburg-born drummer Peter Kronreif are a team full of groove and subtle nuances. This New York group is the ideal quartet for Florian Hoefner’s remarkable compositions. These young jazz musicians play fabulously – and their pieces sing while they do so.