118

Paul Hofmann: New Inventions

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Paul Hofmann: New Inventions Integrating classical influences within an improvisational context is nothing new. What is less common, however, is the idea that there is a syntactical similarity between jazz artists including Bud Powell, Charlie Parker and Duke Ellington and classical composers including Chopin and J.S. Bach. With New Inventions pianist/ composer Paul Hofmann bridges the gap between these seemingly disparate styles; asserting, in fact, that they share more in common than one might think.

Hofmann forwards the not-so-novel but rarely considered idea that improvisation is the root of everything, and that it is only the process of examination and self-editing that shapes it into more formal structure. Before the advent of audio recordings composers were restricted to the pen and paper to commit ideas to permanency. And the same way that the written word is essentially improvised at first, and then edited into a more permanent final form, so are the works of many classical composers rooted in extemporization.

Armed with that concept and a form that follows Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier , where the performer moves uninterrupted through the major and minor variations of all twelve key signatures, Hofmann has created a piece where each of twenty-four movements is based around three distinct phases: first, an original improvised single note theme, followed by a new improvised right hand melody played over a written left hand harmonic framework, concluded by the original theme supported by the written harmonies.

All well and good, of course, but perhaps a tad academic sounding. Fortunately Hofmann is a fine and impassioned performer with a firm background in classical music, jazz rhythms and harmonies, and the juncture between the two. Assessing individual movements is meaningless; suffice it to say that “New Inventions” is emotionally captivating, with moods running the gamut from joyful to melancholy, playful to sombre. Hofmann is both lyrical and economical, with a light touch and innate concept of how to develop the music, both within the confines of the individual movements and for the entire piece as a whole. There is nothing hurried or forced; the piece evolves over the course of seventy minutes, taking the listener through a myriad of stylistic conceits that all manage to tie together by virtue of its conceptual focus.

Bookending the ambitious undertaking are “Three Short Pieces,” written by Paul’s father John, which are charmingly simple and make perfect sense as an introduction to the main event; and Mike Metheny’s “Deceptive Resolution,” which forms a more harmonically complex coda.

Hofmann is a pianist who, with a fairly rich body of work already available on his own MHR Records, is also gaining some notoriety as a result of his duo recording with guitarist Bob Sneider, Interconnection . But with New Inventions he has created a statement where bold aspirations are successfully met with élan; the perfect confluence of his roles as educator and performer.

Visit MHR Records on the web.


Track Listing: Three Short Pieces: Sonatina, A Sad Song, Thirds for Paul
New Inventions: No. 1 in C, No. 2 in C Minor, No. 3 in D-Flat, No. 4 in C-Sharp Minor, No. 5 in D, No. 6 in D Minor, No. 7 in E-Flat, No 8. in E-Flat Minor, No. 9 in E, No 10. in E Minor, No. 11 in F, No. 12 in F Minor, No. 13 in F-Sharp, No. 14 in F-Sharp Minor, No. 15 in G, No. 16 in G Minor, No. 17 in A-Flat, No. 18 in G-Sharp Minor, No. 19 in A, No. 20 in A Minor, No. 21 in B-Flat, No. 22 in B-Flat Minor, No. 23 in B, No. 24 in B Minor
Deceptive Resolution

Personnel: Paul Hofmann (piano)

Year Released: 2003 | Record Label: MHR Records | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture CD/LP/Track Review The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Coldest Second Yesterday CD/LP/Track Review Coldest Second Yesterday
by John Sharpe
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Chicago II CD/LP/Track Review Chicago II
by Doug Collette
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Follow Your Heart CD/LP/Track Review Follow Your Heart
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read "The Declaration of Musical Independence" CD/LP/Track Review The Declaration of Musical Independence
by Mark Sullivan
Published: September 25, 2016
Read "The Outlier" CD/LP/Track Review The Outlier
by Mark Corroto
Published: July 16, 2016
Read "Of Earth And Sky" CD/LP/Track Review Of Earth And Sky
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: July 23, 2016
Read "Mortality" CD/LP/Track Review Mortality
by Glenn Astarita
Published: September 11, 2016
Read "Pineapples and Ashtrays" CD/LP/Track Review Pineapples and Ashtrays
by James Nadal
Published: May 8, 2016
Read "The Hive" CD/LP/Track Review The Hive
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: November 14, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!