New Days Ahead The Music Of Daniel Hofecker is the collaboration of the well-established Budapest Jazz Orchestra big band with trumpeter and composer Daniel Hofecker. Daniel is considered to be one of the most talented young composers and arrangers of his generation having earned his BA as a jazz trumpet player at the Liszt Academy in Budapest, before transferring to the University of Performing Arts in Graz, Austria, where he graduated with a Distinguished MA Diploma in 2022 in jazz composition and arrangement. For this album he collected the pieces that he had penned in the last couple of years, especially the ones that he got a great number of accolades for at international competitions for jazz composition and arrangement.
The album opens with a four-part suite that reflects the changing characteristics and moods of a single day. ‘Dawnin’ opens with a slow, stretching horn section but it is not long before the pace picks up with the introduction of the piano with the horns playing with a touch more purpose. As one might expect, the tune grows as it plays out with very good interactive playing between bass, piano and sax. This is not a high energy tune but one that unfolds much as my mornings do at home. ‘Daytime’ picks up the tempo with a nicely played drum rhythm over which the horns expand on their sound. I enjoyed the piano into sax section with the horns overlaying their lines without detracting from the very well-played sax lines. The central theme is never deviated from too much but the playing in and around that theme is full toned and well controlled.
‘Sunset’ has a real end of a good day feel about it: slow, measured and reflective. The tempo, tone, and phrasing of this part of the suite is delightful – every note is made to count, written with a purpose and, as highlighted by the trumpet and sax section, played with an understanding of what it is the composer is trying to convey. ‘Night’ brings the suite to a close with layers of sound that move between full orchestra and individual players. The trumpet and sax section are as good as before but it was the guitarist who stood out for me, in part, because I was not expecting it but also because of the way this section broke through the full orchestral sound.
‘One For Beni’ is an exercise in style in which Hofecker pays tribute to Bob Brookmeyer, whose composing and arrangement technique he applied here. This is a thoughtful piece with very good piano and sax sections backed by the orchestra which momentarily grows the sound – wonderful full tone trombone used here – before falling away again. ‘La Galérie Des Cotelles’ is inspired by the peace treaty signed after the Great War, which many Hungarians felt was unfavourable to Hungary. ‘Politics’ is a thematically related tune that tries to illustrate the tensions, dilemmas and the unpleasant moments of political debate. Both tunes have an underlying tension about them, though ‘Politics’ wears its apprehension with a more contemporary sound. There is very good use of light and shade across these two tracks which show off the strength of Hofecker’s compositional skills.
The final two tracks bring something different to the album. The first of these is a tribute to the Serbian trumpet player Stjepko Gut (also known as Steve Gut – check out the album Mr C.T.), a player I have been fortunate to hear play live on more than one occasion. It is Mr Gut who plays the trumpet section after the theme has been introduced by vocalist Éva Bolba, and it is so good to hear him in such fine voice. Éva Bolba is not a name I am familiar with; she has a crystal-clear voice and sings in the classic style of the golden era of big band jazz. Irvin Berlin’s ‘Cheek To Cheek’ closes out the album and the arrangement is terrific. Éva Bolba sounds wonderful, the sax solo is a joy and the orchestra play with a controlled energy. There is a most enjoyable scat section that blends so well with the orchestra it would be easy to forget that the sound is produced by the use of the vocal chords.
This is one of those albums that came to my attention because the artist, Daniel Hofecker, got in contact with me via this blog’s contact page and I am so pleased that he did. New Days Ahead is, in my opinion, a very good example of some of the best in orchestral jazz playing. The arrangements are strong and delivered with style, energy, and a deftness of touch. The soloists play their parts to the full and it was so good to hear Stjepko Gut again. Éva Bolba added a touch of vocal class to the proceedings and I will be finding out more about her in my own time. This album starts with something new and finishes on an oft repeated classic but throughout it is the arrangements that make New Days Ahead stand out and shows why Daniel Hofecker has been widely recognized across the European Jazz community for his work as a composer and arranger.
New Days Ahead is available on CD by contacting Daniel Hofecker directly at email@example.com
Tracklist: 1. New Day Suite – I. Dawnin’. 2. New Day Suite – II. Daytime. 3. New Day Suite – III. Sunset. 4. New Day Suite – IV. Night. 5. One For Beni. 6. La Galérie Des Cotelles. 7. Politics. 8. Mr. S.G. 9. Cheek To Cheek.
Hello Simon, I have just been reading your blog about the Budapest Jazz Orchestra, your description of the section work and the soloists makes me want to hear it. Please can you e-mail me with the information of where I can purchase the CD. I don`t know about you but both Valerie and I miss The Governor terribly, we have no one to talk to regarding music, film and theatre. With him we were at one, now there is just a great big space. Unfortunately, I am now confined to barracks due to having an arthritic hip so going out to the theatre, cinema or jazz concerts is not possible for me at the moment, perhaps when the weather improves I might risk it. Best wishes and keep blogging Malcolm