Florian Hoefner's highly anticipated second album with his modern jazz piano trio, "Desert Bloom," hit the shelves in June 2022, causing quite a stir among jazz enthusiasts. Hoefner, hailing from the vibrant music scene of St. John's, showcases his exceptional talent alongside the virtuosic Andrew Downing on bass and the rhythmic prowess of Nick Fraser on drums. While Hoefner has explored various musical endeavors in the past, it is with this trio that he truly shines.
"Desert Bloom" builds upon the Celtic influences heard on his previous album, "First Spring," which was released before the disruptive wave of the pandemic. The bass takes center stage, weaving intricate melodies that resonate with listeners, while the prevailing triplets infuse the compositions with a mesmerizing rhythm. For those seeking a unique experience, the album delivers a fusion of McCoy pentatonic stylings over the soulful songs of Stan Rogers, a truly captivating blend that pushes the boundaries of jazz.
The opening track immediately engages listeners in a smooth ambiance reminiscent of Hoefner's earlier work, but it swiftly transitions into an authoritative groove that exudes power and intensity. The second track introduces a crisp snare sound, highlighting a newfound level of vigor and strength in the trio's performance. Throughout the album, the compositions often challenge traditional notions of key signatures, finding their greatest strength when the drums exert their influence. However, at times, the solos may lack direction, resulting in overwhelming moments.
One notable standout on "Desert Bloom" is the captivating piece titled "Shelter," a lovely and spacious composition that serves as a heartfelt hymn for the isolating times of 2020. Another delightful moment awaits listeners with the bass introduction to "It's All Part of The Plan," a Punch Brothers composition that infuses the album with infectious joy. Florian explains in a CBC interview, "It's got a really catchy melody, it's in 5/4, and it had lots of nice things to work with texturally and arrangement-wise."
"The Day Everything Stopped" reflects upon the moody atmosphere of a world brought to a standstill by the pandemic, with its poignant title serving as a subtle nod to the past. The concept of a desert bloom captures that magical moment when, six months ago, the jazz scene erupted with renewed vigor, breaking free from the drought of live performances.
Bringing the album to a close, the trio returns home to the soothing sounds reminiscent of the Scott LaFaro-era Bill Evans. This tranquil moment serves as a fitting finale, allowing listeners to bask in the musical journey crafted by Florian and his talented ensemble.
The exceptional artistry displayed on "Desert Bloom" has not gone unnoticed by the jazz community. The album received the prestigious Jazz Album of the Year - Group award at the Juno Awards on March 11, 2023, solidifying its place as a standout release in the genre. Florian Hoefner's ability to continually unveil new and unexpected facets of his artistry stems from his unique trajectory through the world of music. Born in Bavaria, Hoefner's prodigious talent was recognized early on, leading him to secure the piano chair in Germany's national youth jazz orchestra. Following his studies in Berlin with esteemed mentors Hubert Nuss and Kurt Rosenwinkel, Hoefner embarked on extensive touring with his own bands, honing his craft along the way. A Fulbright Scholarship presented him with the opportunity to study in New York City under the guidance of Jason Moran, an influential mentor who inspired Hoefner to
Now, at the end of March 2023, a Dolby Atmos mix was released by John ‘Beetle’ Bailey through Alma Records as a MKV or MP4 download on Immersive Audio Album. The result offers an expansive listening experience for fans to enjoy. Of course, one could still choose to pick up the Compact Disc through Amazon for the wall of sound stereo listening experience. In either case, Florian Hoefner delivers a unique trajectory through music, which explains his capacity to keep revealing new and unexpected facets of his artistry.
Dolby Atmos Edition Released March 31, 2023.
Dolby Atmos MKV / MP4 download, or on Compact Disc. Also available via popular streaming sites.