Eric Hofbauer Jazz Guitarist / Composer / Educator

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New Projects, New Music, and New Look Site

In the last month I have connected with some of my favorite musicians in town (Boston) and not only did we play some great gigs but decided to pursue working together as ensembles. The first group is a quintet formed by the amazing saxophonist Tom Hall (check out his site, he is a prolific performer and author of a unique and insightful book on improvisation). In addition to Tom on tenor the band includes Curt Newton on drums (you may know him from the Tripleplay recording with Ken Vandermark among countless other recordings and projects), Marty Ballou (Duke Robillard, Peter Wolf and several other prominent blues and jazz players from the Northeast) and Allan Chase on alto (current Berklee ear training head honcho, also was a mentor to me at NEC when he was the jazz chair and I was a grad student there).

This band is an improvising project, meaning, we only improvise, no standards, no originals. But… it is not a free jazz skronk fest either, Tom and Allan are two very melodic and swinging players and the focus of the band is to actually create compositions on the spot, establish a mood and melodic and/harmonic environment and develop it. The Dutch call it ‘instant composition’ and that is an apt term for what this new band (called the Enso Orchestra, enso is Japanese for circle or ‘the expression of the moment’) a fitting way to describe what the band does. Below is a clip from a performance last year with just Tom, Curt and I, we did not get footage of our last gig with the full quintet but this at least shows what we do.

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The next group is a quartet including the amazing pianist Pandelis Karayorgis ( hatOLOGY recording artist, works with Ken Vandermark, Steve Swell, Curt Newton among others), and the in demand and brilliant bass and drum combo of Jacob William and Luther Gray (Joe Morris and others). This group focuses on original compositions that range from the open swinging type to the very intricate and arranged (Pandelis’ Swarm or my brand new No Suite). All members contribute new works to the group. Pandelis plays Wurlitzer in this group, sometimes with all types of timbre modulating effects. It is a unique group in that the guitar and wurlitzer both have prominent melodic and harmonic amplified voices. It gives the group just a hint of the psychedelic. Below is a clip from a recent Outpost 186 show (our first performance). I will post more as it become available.

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What I love about these groups is that they both embrace every jazz vocabulary, they are not limited by style of definition. In each there is room for form or formlessness, harmony or open areas, swing feel and pulse or no pulse, pitch and tonal precision or pure sonic texture. Basically, they are fluent in the swing, bop and free vocabularies, something I believe is the basic foundation for any 21 century jazz or improvisation player on the path of creativity and individuality.

It is also an honor to be playing with these musicians many of whom I watched in awe back when I was a student here in Boston in the mid 90’s. Curt, Pandelis, Tom and Allen all have been local heroes of mine for a long time and it is such a joy to get a chance to make music with them. I remember seeing Curt and Pandelis play a version of Eric Dolphy’s Miss Ann (one of my favorite compositions by one of my favorite jazz musicians) back in 1996 and it just killed me. What a thrill it is to now play with all of these amazing and creative people.

One last bit of news… the site has gone through some changes. I changed a bit of the color scheme and layout for clarity and updated the home page photo which is now interactive (roll over the frets of my guitar and you will see what I mean). I also have finally streamlined the content, especially the groups pages and the CD pages so it is easier to find and read content about my various projects and releases.

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