Eric Hofbauer Jazz Guitarist / Composer / Educator

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One From The Vault: Part 2

Or… this could be called One From the Dusty Old Duffle Bag, because that is where I found this week’s selection. Apparently I have a black duffle, stuffed away on a shelf in my studio after my move, which is filled with old CD and DAT masters and live recordings. Basically, the contents of this bag amounts to the history of my performance and recording career or as I called it upon discovery “my life on plastic”. From now I will remember what is in there and keep it safe, perhaps soon I will start cataloging it too.
I rediscovered this bag of treasures because I was looking for an old session tape of the now defunct CK 5. It was a quintet led by one of the East Coast’s most unique sax players and my good friend Charlie Kohlhase. Charlie and I are now in a project of his called The Explorer’s Club, but back in 2003 he had a completely different unit (with the exception of he and I) with a different repertoire.

The band included the mostly unsung but no less immense talents of Jason Hunter, tenor sax (now living in Canada), Scott Barnum, bass (now living in Iowa), and Robert Roses, drums (now a doctor in Philly I think). We performed all around New England between 2000 and 2005 and my first release on CNM was a collection of live recordings of the band called “CK 5 Live”. We did do a couple studio sessions at Peter Kontrimas’ studio in Feb. 2003 but we ran out of funding to finish and release the project. However, there is some interesting material including reworkings of Kohlhase “standards” from his 90’s Kohlhase Quintet days with Matt Wilson, a early version of my composition “Flex Flux” which would show up on the Infrared Band’s debut “Myth Understanding” in 2008 and a cover of the Albert Ayler classic melody, “Ghosts”.
It is the “Ghosts” cover that I share with you today. Some consider this sacred sonic territory and we even discussed in the studio if we should record it (this was years before Branford covered “A Love Supreme” which proclaimed once and for all, that for better or worse, nothing in the jazz repertory is sacred). Like any good cover, we pay homage by taking a different direction. Yes, there is still plenty of energetic tenor explorations (both Charlie and Jason are on tenor here so tenor fans will get their fix) but the song takes a turn to the roots of where “Ghosts” came from originally, American folk music. I have always heard “Ghosts” as an African American folk hymn just as much as a free jazz piece. I wanted to bring that Blind Willie Johnson or Son House sound and feel (along with some blatant micro and/or polytonality) to our performance. I think you can hear that throughout and definitely when the band drops out and lets me play a very deconstructed variation of the melody in my solo before we all play the refrain at the end.

I remember in the studio getting chills when the two tenors came roaring back in at the end of the guitar solo with the melody over Scott bowing a big low F and me strumming (tremolo really) a full six string F bar chord. The overtones lifted us off the floor. I got those same chills today hearing that moment again (sound is such a powerful and emotional memory trigger) 8 years later.
I hope you enjoy this version and the simple beauty of Albert’s melody.

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