Eric Hofbauer Jazz Guitarist / Composer / Educator

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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.”

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