Musicians: Simon Plötzeneder: trumpet & Flügelhorn; Stefan Gottfried: alto saxophone; Tobias Hoffmann: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone; Daniel Holzleitner: trombone; Fabian Rucker: bass clarinet, baritone saxophone; Christopher Pawlu: guitar; Philipp Nykrin: piano; Andres Waelti: bass; Michael Prowaznik: drums

Recording date: August 2018, mixed and mastered: December 2019, January 2019
Titles: Retrospective; Happenstance; Horns Alone; Procrastinator; Frülingserwachen; Propulsion; Who’s to blame; Remembrance; Venteto; Am Ende des Tages.

Composer: compositions and arrangements by Tobias Hoffmann
Label: Alessa Records and Jazz, ALR1076
Distribution: Sounddesign Austria,

The Tobias Hoffmann Nonet shows a wide array of beautiful colored arrangements of original compositions as well as giving optimal space for the members of the band for their solos to shine.

In the liner notes, his teacher, the great and legendary composer and arranger Michael Abene, mentions the ‘sense of orchestration’ of his former student. Well, that sense of knowing how to put instruments together in the right way in order to create interesting colors, is highly developed. As this cd shows.

The task of any composer/arranger is to create a texture of melodic lines that together form harmonies, developing in time, supported by rhythms. The textures create by Tobias Hoffmann are sometimes dense, sometimes open. The musical lines sometimes deliberately clash and at other times meander friendly and openly alongside each other. At all times they result in intelligently woven melodic treads that are propelled by a wide array of even and odd meters.

The nonet of Tobias Hoffmann has a sound of its own. The compositions express a wide range of moods and atmospheres that are exemplified by highly capable soloists in the band when it is time for them to show their impressive improvisation skills. Each solo is backed up and bedded in well-constructed backgrounds.

These 9 players have the power and the range similar to an 18-person big band but is not hindered by the restricting heaviness that often comes with such a full-size band. Although the music of this cd sounds beautiful and is a pleasure to listen to, it definitively is not easy to play. Tobias Hoffmann has succeeded in finding the right, highly skilled, dedicated and experienced players to put his music together. What a great job they did!

The title of the cd, ‘Retrospective’ is deceptive. On one hand, the music of The Tobias Hoffmann Nonet stands in a long tradition in Europe of excellent jazz arrangements for larger ensembles. Already in the 1930’s jazz arrangers in Europe gave evidence that they knew how to create strong and convincing arrangements of jazz bands and orchestras of all sizes. At the same time, the music on ‘Retrospective’ is of the present day, is the music of ‘now’. The nonet at all times creates personal colors, makes clever use of odd meters, and produces fresh and open melodies.

In ‘Horns alone’, indeed without rhythm section, in ‘Frühlingserwachsen’, in the ballad ‘Remembrance’ and the closing number ‘Am Ende des Taches’, with a gorgeous alto saxophone solo of Stefan Gottfried, the tempo goes down and the colors enfold in all their possible beauty.

On the other side of the spectrum are the funky pieces such as ‘Procrastinator’ with a great ‘over the top’ solo of bass clarinetist Fabian Rucker and the latin-funky ‘Veneto’ with a strong solo of Tobias Hoffmann himself, supported by strong backgrounds.

If you can experience this music live, if the nonet decides to tour nearby where you live, do not miss the opportunity to hear this band live. If possible, in a small and intimate setting. The music on ‘Retrospective’ is not background music. At home, take some time to do nothing else while listening to this music. If possible, on a good or excellent sound system or head set.

The compositions on ‘Retrospective’ are arranged in such an order that they make one coherent set. Take the inlay booklet with you and read the two or three introduction lines that Tobias Hoffmann wrote to set you in the right mood before each piece starts. If you do this several times, each time you will become more aware of the musical beauty and cleverness that is revealed to you. Repeated listening of ‘Retrospective’ will bring you more and more musical enjoyment. Guaranteed!