On what basis do we judge and review jazz records? Is it on performance, skill, composition and production? Or should our criteria be more emotional? Does it elicit sadness, excitement? Do I get lost in the music and simply float along on its rhythm, pace, melody and movement? Florian Hoefner's Luminosity made me ask myself these questions, as it addresses all these criteria at once, a rare feat.
Hoefner's tunes are seamlessly intertwined, as is his band's performance. Luminosity is a total experience. Besides sizzling saxophonist Seamus Blake, the other musician names are less familiar on this record, the third from German-born Hoefner. The entire band, completed by bassist Sam Anning and drummer Peter Kronrief, performs as if joined at the hip, as if they all wrote the compositions, not Hoefner alone. Composed while on sabbatical in Newfoundland, Luminosity plays out like a suite, so flawless is the material. The fabric of each composition relies on complex chordal and rhythmic motifs but, as the album speeds by, one is only caught up in the sound of the music, grace of the piano, swells and surges of the rhythm section and swirling tenor.
The rhythmic ingredients in Hoefner's music are telling: a calm 5/4 time feel on the title track; a deft metric modulation effect between drums and piano on "In Circles"; scatting, bop-like tenor and bass unison in "The Bottom Line"; gentle rhythms cascading like a waterfall in "The Narrows". Throughout, Hoefner's music is as thoughtful as it is thought-provoking. Far from a collection of tunes with separate meanings and musical messages, Luminosity is a complete work, so unified one forgets where one track ends and the next begins. It is the essence of flow, as clear as a stream rushing by and equally invigorating.