Eric Hofbauer Jazz Guitarist / Composer / Educator

Get Adobe Flash player
In The Past – Old EH Blog Posts
Back From France – Two New Releases: Ghost Frets & Prehistoric Jazz Vol. 4 – Reminiscing in Tempo

The remount of Arthur Nauzyciel’s reimagining of Julius Caesar in Rennes, France was a smashing success. It was so wonderful to reconnect with the brilliant cast and crew, at this point (10 years into performing this production) we are a family. Like any family, some are no longer with us for various reasons (like our dearly loved Tommy Derrah who could not join us on the tour and passed away in Boston on our opening night!), and yet some new join the fold. At the core, no matter how many years off in between productions (this time it was 5 years since we last performed in Bogota) the cast works hard together to bring the best out of each other and to craft a story that, especially in the current state of the world and the US specifically, still speaks so powerfully about the abuse of power, tyranny, freedom, and the thin veil between politics and war. I play the “jazz guitarist” in the production, as part of a trio with Marianne Solivan, voice and Dmitri Ishenko, bass.

We have been exploring and transforming our 9 song repertoire in this production in over 200 performances now, and over 10 years. There is a depth and trust between the trio and the actors that is profound now, and this last tour truly highlighted the synthesis of spirit and emotion between the creative work of the trio and the interpretation of Shakespeare’s language by the actors.

Me and James Waterston, who plays Brutus in Julius Caesar

Now that I’m back from France, it’s time to refocus my energies on the two new releases of mine this fall. First the physical release of my latest solo album, Ghost Frets. I had done a digital only release last fall but because of that the jazz industry gave it very little attention (more musing on that music industry conundrum in another post soon). This album is very near and dear to me because the inspiration is very near and dear, Garrison Fewell. This album is a tribute, elegy, celebration of my guitar slinging parter in improvisatory crime from 2003(when we first started hanging out) to 2015(when he passed away).


This album is available at bandcamp or Amazon.

Coming out on Friday Nov. 3 is the latest and final volume of the “Prehistoric Jazz” series by the Eric Hofbauer Quintet. Volume 4 is my arrangement of Duke Ellington’s rarely performed “Reminiscing in Tempo” composition from 1935. This was a first in jazz history as Ellington wrote this as a through composed suite, something which irked many on the industry and criticism side of the jazz world because it was the height of the swing era and here was a black band playing something so much more intricate, emotionally demanding, and complicated than the expected dance music swingers of the time. The undertones of racism are strong in the reception of this piece at the time of its premiere. It was a personal piece by Duke, written as a celebration to his mother who had recently passed, and because of the personal nature, combined with the critics bashing the piece for not having improvisation, among other things he rarely performed it again. I transcribed the big band arrangement and then arranged it for the quintet, with the usual prehistoric jazz philosophy of reimagining it as a launch pad solos, and a synthesis of composition and improvisation.


This album is available for pre-order at bandcamp and Amazon.

There is already an early review out on Prehistoric Jazz from a great new music blog called Stereogum. We are featuring on the best new jazz of Oct. 2017 and the review states… “Guitarist Eric Hofbauer’s Prehistoric Jazz series is one of the most fascinating and individualistic things around.”

Prof Hof’s Thirty Nearly Impossible Études for Guitar Duo – For Sale! and Downbeat Review.

My new Étude book is available at and was recently reviewed in Downbeat Magazine. What follows is a bit of the introduction which may pique your curiosity to the challenges awaiting advancing guitarists in these pages. More content (video performances etc. ) coming summer 2017. Enjoy!

From the Introduction to Prof Hof’s Thirty Nearly Impossible Études for Guitar Duo

The traditional goal of an étude is to help a musician develop mastery through the exploration and execution of a particular set of challenging technical, harmonic, or rhythmic concepts. This collection of thirty guitar duets, at its heart, keeps with that tradition. In every duet there are several challenging concepts working in concert to push the players toward mastery. Each étude has a harmonic, rhythmic/temporal, articulation/timbral, and technical challenge to work on. Twenty-four études focus on key centers (one for each major and minor key), while the last six deal with modern harmonic topics of polytonality and twelve-tone melody. The rhythmic/temporal concepts range from the expected (syncopation extremes, various tuplets, and odd meters) to the unorthodox (mixed meters, polyrhythms, and polypulse).

Often overlooked by guitarists is the vast and diverse ways of playing pitch on the instrument. These collected études cover a full range of articulation and timbral choices available on the instrument, including hammer-on and pull-off combinations, scoops, slides, harmonics, muted pitch, vibrato, and other percussive effects. Technical concerns are predominantly the focal point of any étude collection and this one keeps to that maxim. The demands are very guitar specific. In addition to speed and accuracy, there are études that involve extreme range, unfamiliar chord voicings, block chord melodies, double stops, independent counterpoint melody for one guitar, nonadjacent string melodic leaps, and extended techniques.

What my colleagues are saying.

“ It is exciting to see a folio of new music written by a masterful player and for my favorite format: the guitar duo. My heart soared when I saw that it utilized all the various devices that are part and parcel of today’s modern improvising guitarists. We will make great use of these wonderful pieces. Bravo, Eric!” – Dave Tronzo

 “Challenging, beautiful, contemporary pieces of music for the guitar, that will expand the skills of anyone who plays them.”Joe Morris

 “Boston has a grand tradition of musical pedagogical wizardry: Professor Hofbauer’s étude book is an important addition to that longstanding practice. These études will force you out of your guitar somnambulism and eject you into the beautiful and mysterious topography of the guitar.”  – Brandon Seabrook

“These challenging and enjoyable studies should help the motivated guitarist expand his or her technical abilities. They are also great sight reading exercises.” – Ben Monder

“Eric Hofbauer has written a sensitive and in-depth body of etudes that helps students grasp basic guitar playing concepts in a musical context. The musical context is important given that I’ve seen many thorough melodic and rhythm studies for the guitar that help guitarists gain a better understanding of the fretboard, but are written in a very dry and unmusical manner.

I particularly like the fact that Prof. Hof’s etudes can be played in any style and in the 21st century this is vital! Having been part of so many hybrid bands that play in different styles I think a method that approaches this issue is important for the budding player and helps them on their way to finding their own sound in our ever shrinking global village.” – Dave Fiuczynski

Ghost Frets – New Solo Album Released!!

Ghost Frets, my latest solo guitar album, dedicated to my dear friend and fellow six string samurai, Garrison Fewell is now available as of 9/16/16. It features a couple of songs by Garrison including Ayleristic and Blues Update, plus a tune G and I used to love to play in our duo concerts, Monk’s Let’s Cool One. As with all Hofbauer solo outings there has to been wacky covers and this one keeps to that maxim with The Ghost in You by the Psychedelic Furs and All Things Must Pass by my fave of the fab four, George Harrison. I also do two jazz classics from vastly different styles, Out to Lunch by Eric Dolphy and Buddy Bolden’s Blues by Joe “King” Oliver (see video clip from studio session below), plus several original compositions for solo guitar.  Ghost Frets is now available for PURCHASE at With the order you get the download format of your choice (along with a digital booklet with awesome liner notes by jazz critic and historian David R. Adler). BTW this album is a DIGITAL ONLY release! I’m trying something new and joining the future. Click the player below to hear Ayleristic and Let’s Cool One and place your ORDER! This is a collection of very personal music predominantly about or inspired by my friendship and collaborations with Garrison, I recorded it entirely acoustic (no amps, overdubs or effects) on my Guild Artist Award so it is intimate yet dynamic. I’m honored to share it with the world. Feel free to share your feedback. Thanks always for your support and interest.

Awaken the Dragon – The Return of Solo Guitar & Garrison Fewell

I have taken a long break from solo guitar. Hell, I have taken a long break from posting a blog on ye olde home page. Life sometimes has a way of creating obstacles which prevent getting everything done on that “to do” list. It began in summer of 2015 when my best friend, Garrison Fewell, passed away of cancer. He was a such a positive force in my personal and professional life. His encouragement, wisdom, compassion and creative camaraderie has been sorely missed and debilitatingly so. We (several of Garrison’s Boston musician friends/collaborators) gave a wonderful tribute concert in November ’15 called Invisible Resonance: The Music of Garrison Fewell. You can watch the entire concert on the linked Youtube channel. Some powerful stuff from all the musicians involved. After that, I lost focus, maybe even lost my faith a bit, in music, in “jazz” in my purpose as a guitarist and educator. I was in “lower my head and just get through the day” mode most of the fall and winter. Yet there were a few bright spots, although I was not too motivated to hustle up gigs and play for, or with, anyone, I was practicing. Not just the usual amount for my schedule, I was playing WAY more than usual, logging in undergrad or grad school type hours on the instrument. Out of that work and solitude, I heard a voice. The voice of my most ardent and encouraging fan of my solo guitar playing… Garrison. The man who once told me there were only two people who scared him on the guitar, Joe Pass and myself, spoke to me in the contemplative silences between the resonating strings… “Keep Going” he said, “This is what you need to do”.  It was obvious! I had been ignoring one of my favorite things to do (playing solo) in music because I was having a 6 month long pity party for myself that no one gave a fuck about. It was only hurting me and my career and certainly not celebrating or honoring my dear friend in the process either! Well, Garrison’s voice has poked the dragon awake. Not only did I decide to make another solo recording, I was going to play to honor and celebrate Garrison’s music and life with it. So in early Jan ’16 I piggy backed onto a pre-existing session (the EHQ’s Prehistoric Jazz Vol. 3: Ives’ Three Places in New England… more on that album and how the band crushed it! soon). So Friday night at Rotary Records in Springfield MA, my main man Warren and I cut the new solo album. The next morning the EHQ swung by and we cut PJ V3. Basically in about 22 hours I made two albums of music. Sometimes it still perplexes me how I could play so much without my hands  or my focus, giving out. But… I swear he was there, as always, encouraging me with positive feelings and love. There are several cuts on the solo album where I heard two guitar when I was playing, like he was there and we were digging into one of our celestially synchronized searches. He used to alway remark when we played duo that he could not discern who was playing what, even when he watched his own fingers. We would listen back to a concert and he would say “who played that, I don’t remember playing that? I don’t even know what that is”. Yet it was his playing he was listening to, but we had a way of pulling much more out of each other than we could pull out of ourselves either solo or in other groups. This may sound stupid, but that night in the studio, cutting my tribute to Garrison, it was not a solo recording, it was duo all the way because his spirit was still pulling MORE out of me than I even could on my own. Ask Warren how many times I said “who played that? I don’t remember playing that?” when we listened to the play back. I’m very honored to have been given a chance to record music by and inspired by Garrison Fewell. I recorded his compositions “Blues Update” and “Ayleristic” as well as “Let’s Cool One” which was a favorite of our’s from our duo CD “The Lady of Khartoum”. I also did some improvisations with Garrison in my heart and ear (and fingers) as well as a few other tunes that spoke to me personally about loss, friendship, and hope. It turns out this album is deeply rooted in the blues, there are several blues based tunes on it, but even the free pieces speak using that forked tongue of joy and pain. It is fitting I feel. I will post updates and little sneak peeks of the music on this blog in the next few weeks and months. See when you poke a dragon awake it takes time to get that thing up and about. Those slow thighs take time to raise that body up, there are sparks in the belly that need to be stoked before the dragon’s head raises up and fire-breathing begins. Little steps first, get that mix right, book a gig or two, work on the packaging… all those things are “slouching towards Bethlehem” (as Yeats says). Soon the dragon will be in full flight (with more concerts, tributes, tours, CDs etc etc.) for now I have a wonderful video from the studio of “Buddy Bolden’s Blues” and some concert footage of “Cult of Personality” and “Let’s Cool One” and Garrison’s “Ayleristic” from Feb. ’16. Thank you Garrison for waking the dragon, I promise not to let you down.

“Cult of Personality” performed by Eric Hofbauer from Infinite Momentum on Vimeo.

“Let’s Cool One” and “Ayleristic” :: Eric Hofbauer from Infinite Momentum on Vimeo.

EHQ Music Video and Prehistoric Jazz Goes Digital

The Eric Hofbauer Quintet is kicking off summer with the digital release of the critically acclaimed sister recordings, Prehistoric Jazz Volume 1 – The Rite of Spring and Prehistoric Jazz Volume 2 – Quatour pour la fin du temps. Both recordings are now available through most digital retailers, including i-tunes and youtube. 

In addition, Warren Amerman from Rotary Records, who recorded both Prehistoric Jazz releases, recently shot and edited a music video of ‘The Augurs of Spring’ from Prehistoric Jazz Volume 1! It is rare to see a serious production-value music video of jazz, or most other instrumental music for that matter, especially one able to capture the spirit of improvisation and group interaction through the camera angles and film editing. Very cool!

All About Jazz & The Whole Note – Reviews of EHQ Prehistoric Jazz Vol. 1 and 2

The reviews keep coming, this time from the expert and detailed oriented jazz critics Mark F. Turner (All About Jazz) and Ken Waxman (The Whole Note). Click the links for full reviews.

Just a reminder… CD’s can still be purchased at the links below.

AMAZON – Volume 1 and 2 in package deal

BAND CAMP – individual CDs or digital version

“With sure workmanship and untamed inquisitiveness, Boston-based guitarist Eric Hofbauer is no stranger to confronting unusual yet stimulating music. Examples include 2008’s uncharacteristic guitar duo The Lady of Khartoum with Garrison Fewell or the strikingAmerican solo series—American Vanity (2004), American Fear (2010) and American Grace(2013)—which crossed distinctive terrains of improvisation and covers of iconic pieces suchLouis Armstrong‘s “West End Blues,” Cindy Lauper’s “True Colors” and a raucous take on rock group Van Halen’s “Hot for Teacher.”

So with a new quintet and his imaginative proclivity it’s not a stretch for Hofbauer to set his sights on the music of two early 20th century composers with his Prehistoric Jazz volumes brought to fruition through a concert series and two recordings which illuminate the art of a jazz improvisation and artistic liberties of Russian composer Igor Stravinsky’s iconic 1913 ballet and orchestral concert masterpiece—Le Sacre du printemps (The Rite of Spring) and French composer Olivier Messiaen’s 1941 Quatuor pour la fin du temps (Quartet for the End of Time).” – Mark F. Turner, All About Jazz

“For most people “prehistoric jazz” means W.C. Handy or Buddy Bolden, yet Boston-based Eric Hofbauer puts a post-modern spin on the concept. Recognizing that advanced improvisation takes as much from the so-called classical tradition as jazz, he reworks two 20th-century musical milestones into separate programs for trumpeter Jerry Sabatini, clarinetist Todd Brunel, cellist Junko Fujiwara and drummer Curt Newton plus his own guitar. Each is handled differently.

The studied primitivism of Igor Stravinsky’s symphonic The Rite of Spring is miniaturized with each player standing in for a different orchestral section. The result is as rousing and romantic as the original score, but with openings for distinctive solos that rhythmically extend the composer’s ur-modernism. Originally composed for a chamber ensemble, Olivier Messiaen’s Quatuor pour la fin du temps is implemented with as much joyous ecstasy as the composer intended, but stripped of its overt Christian mysticism.” – Ken Waxman, The Whole Note

“If this is Prehistoric, it’s also timeless” – More press for EHQ

In the last month or so since our NPR feature piece (see post below) on Fresh Air, there has been a wonderful windfall of overwhelmingly positive, dare I say it, rave, reviews for the Eric Hofbauer Quintet’s releases “Prehistoric Jazz Volume 1 & 2”. Below are some highlights, including an appearance on the culture journal, Burning Ambulance’s “Best 25 Jazz Records of 2014” list.

“An interesting blend of old-timey music, classical, and avant-garde clatter and squeak…both provide opportunities for the various members of the group to take extended, introspective solos, or dialogue with each other, as the mood dictates”
Burning Ambulance Top 25 of 2014 (#14)

“It’s really hard to choose one volume over the other so be wise and purchase both.  This music will bring you hours of pleasure as you listen to the care and attention Eric Hofbauer put into making “The Rite of Spring” and “Quintet for the End of Time.” While it’s clear the Quintet can and does play with great virtuosity, this music is also emotionally strong and heartfelt.” – Richard Kamins, Step Tempest Blog

“Boston-based, top tier guitarist eric hofbauer uses his quintet to shake the cobwebs out of birthing the universe” – Ann Porotti, WTJU 91.1FM UVA Radio

“There are so many interesting cross-references at work here, Hofbauer seems to have thought of everything. First of all, the sound and approach of this ensemble often sounds a bit like 1920s jazz, which would have been the era in which “Rite” could have been first played as an experimental jazz piece. None of this is obvious or ‘museum like’ as Hofbauer also draws on many modern elements such as free improvisation and more. The 20s sound of the ensemble and the modern NYC eclectic influences blend seamlessly, the end result is a piece that fits well with the music of today… Eric Hofbauer’s version of “The Rite of Spring” never gets boring or predictable, the main melodies of the piece come and go while they mix with all manner of diversions and excursions. Eric is able to accent the modernist elements of this piece, both in the context of its time period and today, and show the connecting similarities in both decades. This rendition really brings new life to Stravinsky’s creation, and I think Igor would have enjoyed hearing it. The added plus is Hofbauer’s guitar playing, which somehow can capture some of the color of Stravinsky’s original orchestrations.”
Jazz Music

“Guitarist Eric Hofbauer does things his own way, in ways other people generally don’t. But he steps further beyond the expected these days with a two-volume offering that takes some contemporary 20th century milestone classical compositions and arranges them for a jazz-centered quintet….The band has their hands full realizing the motifs and getting loose and free improvisationally, or even at times sounding like an early jazz band and/or Duke’s Jungle period outfit, too. Much credit goes to the arrangements/arranger, and to the sextet itself also for their creative transformations.” – Grego Applegate Edwards, Gapplegate Guitar and Bass Blog

“As with volume one Eric does not give you an end-to-end transcription of the original work, but instead selects key motives and sections, giving the themes to various instrumental combinations and slanting the phrases at times for a more jazzed reading. The Messiaen really lends itself to this treatment, and Eric makes much out of the music so that it convinces fully as jazz for today. There are certain passages of the work that sound so boppish you’d think Messiaen meant them that way. Kudos to Hofbauer for hearing the potential and realizing it so well. Eric, Jerry and Todd get some really interesting solos going too, at times simultaneously. It is no easy feat to pull this off, but Hofbauer and company do so with style, swinging heat and smarts. This one brings it on home! Many stars, if I rated things that way. Highly recommended! – Grego Applegate Edwards, Gapplegate Guitar and Bass Blog

“Perhaps the most adventurous attempt at a renaissance fusion of what has been referred to as “third stream” music… Jazz and classical have an unspoken wall of theory placed between them. Guitarist Eric Hofbauer has just shattered the wall and raised the bar for modern composition across the board….The Eric Hofbauer Quintet is magnificent… To refer to Hofbauer as a modern if not impressionistic virtuoso is not a stretch, and the quintet is first rate with the amazing ability to perform with a sound twice their size. (These recordings) are the personification of passion on a shiny silver disc.
Brent Black, Critical Jazz (Bop-n-Jazz)

“Prehistoric Jazz Volume 1 & 2” are available at Amazon and Band Camp.

Eric Hofbauer Quintet’s ‘Prehistoric Jazz Volume 1 & 2’ on NPR’s Fresh Air

Jazz writer Kevin Whitehead reviews ‘Prehistoric Jazz Volume 1 & 2’ on NPR’s Fresh Air. I am very honored to have had these recording, which features my recompositions of ‘The Rite of Spring’ and ‘Quartet for the End of Time’ featured on Fresh Air. The review is particularly poetic and filled with imagery which I believe delves deeply into the narrative of these recordings. I am proud to share this recording and these CDs with you. Visit the NPR Site. or listen below.

Eric Hofbauer Quintet’s “Prehistoric Jazz – Volume 1 and 2” Released Oct. 28th

Exciting NPJVol1ews, CNM (Creative Nation Music) has released the Eric Hofbauer Quintet’s debut recordings “Prehistoric Jazz -Volume 1 & Volume 2”. Volume 1 features my arrangement of Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring” and Volume 2 features my arrangement of Messiaen’s “Quartet for the End of PJVol2Time”. Both feature the quintet of myself, Jerry Sabatini on trumpet, Todd Brunel on clarinet, Junko Fujiwara on cello and Curt Newton on drums. We recorded both CD’s on an early spring weekend in April and we are excited to have them simultaneously released on Oct. 28th. Both are available for sale sold as a set on AMAZON. Or visit the BAND PAGE to buy them separately or as a digital download from This release is something of a collector’s edition. It has wonderfully insightful liner notes by the world class jazz writer and historian, David Adler. The brilliant and talented Warren Amerman (Rotary Records) did the recording, mixing and mastering (and these discs sound incredible! you really have to hear them to believe it). My designer extraordinaire, Benjamin Shaykin (who has designed several CNM classic releases including American Fear and American Grace) did the design. What perhaps makes this really a collector’s release is the packaging. Dan Wood (a colleague of Ben’s) did a letter press printing for
the liner notes and packaging. Letter press is the OLD way of printing using presses, typesetting and inks. The packaging is locally made (Providence RI) and hand-crafted. Each one is a wonderfully textured mini work of art. It is an unique way to package such a personally meaningful project. I, and the whole quintet are excited and honored to share this music with you all. Enjoy! and Thank you!



Curating Jazz Playlists on Songza!