On March 12, 2013 Creative Nation Music (CNM) released American Grace (CNM 022), guitarist Eric Hofbauer’s third solo recording, completing the trilogy begun in 2004 with American Vanity (CNM 003) and followed by American Fear (CNM 019) in 2010. Throughout all three American Trilogy recordings, Hofbauer comments on varied aspects of American society and culture, covering a wide range of styles from ’80’s pop tunes, jazz standards, bebop and free jazz to country and blues. This disc will be available through City Hall Records and digitally through IODA.
Reflecting on his journey of exploration through three solo recordings, Hofbauer explains, “The trilogy is about process, coming of age, or coming to terms with the internal and external world. It’s autobiographical and I hope in some ways, universal. Grace is the final step… acceptance of who we are, regardless of what the universe has dished out. Vanity and Fear portrayed the more green side of that process, while Grace is the arrival of awareness, of embracing the duality inherent in life and humanity.” The nineteen tracks on American Grace cover a vast stylistic territory, connected together through Hofbauer’s unique deconstructionist sense of melodic interpretation, polyrhythm and bi-tonality. Original compositions sit side by side with startling interpretations of folk hymns, free jazz, 80’s pop classics, stride guitar, bebop and the blues.
Eric Hofbauer has become a significant force in Boston’s improvised-music scene… His aesthetic evokes old blues, Americana, Tin Pan Alley, bebop, and further frontiers. There’s a rule-breaking spirit but also an impeccable rigor, a foundation of sheer chops and knowledge, that put Hofbauer in the top tier of plectrists.
– David R. Adler, Stereophile
Masterful Bostonian guitarist Eric Hofbauer has made something of a personalized speciality in the rare and difficult realm of solo guitar work as heard on his trilogy of albums, American Vanity, American Fear and now the final act of the series, American Grace (read the complete 4 star review)
– Josef Woodard, Downbeat
Although part of a trilogy, “American Grace” is a highly effective piece of work in its own right. It’s a profoundly personal journey that touches many musical bases yet still presents a unified whole. Hofbauer’s blend of jazz and Americana is notable for sounding nothing like Bill Frisell, something of an achievement in itself in my opinion…Hofbauer is an astonishing technician but he puts these abilities to good use, this isn’t an album about grandstanding or technique but there’s a quiet intensity to Hofbauer’s work that gives it considerable emotional impact. Even the briefest pieces leave a substantial emotional imprint. (read the complete review)
– Ian Mann, The Jazz Mann
A rugged individualist, the guitarist exposes the angst-ridden underbelly of the American dream through a series of unflinching portraits…Hofbauer is also a down-to- Earth outerspaceman who launches his most far-flung sonic rockets from the most basic of materials: hymns, blues and functional harmony…American Grace proves a worthy closer to an impressive series. (read the complete review)
– Tom Greenland, The New York City Jazz Record
American Grace mingles original Hofbauer compositions witha selection of covers judicious enough to rival the books of Brad Mehldeau and the Bad Plus… American Grace is an abundantly expressive and fully affecting guitar recording. (read the complete review)
– Jeff Tamarkin, JazzTimes
Hofbauer plays the guitar like Derek Bailey, if Derek Bailey happened to be born in Mississippi instead of Sheffield England. He chisels sounds both primitive and modern, sometimes simultaneously…In his hands, a guitar can reconfigure “West End Blues” as free jazz or morph Sammy Cahn’s classic “Guess I’ll Hang My Tears Out To Dry” into a devotional melody. Hofbauer reconfigures melodies as if he were a modern primitive, discovering these methods of music-making afresh. (read the complete review)
– Mark Corroto, All About Jazz
American Grace (has) an ambiance that is a rare commodity in the world of modern jazz guitar. The kicker being Hofbauer transcends jazz and most any generic label most critics would insist he be placed under. Eric Hofbauer is an artist. (read the complete 5 star review)
Guitarist Eric Hofbauer has created a masterful showcase with American Grace, a mix of folk, jazz, blues and rock styles. Or, perhaps best described as a deep exploration of American music. Unadorned and uninhibited, the acoustic guitar is recorded clearly, preserved in sonic crystal. (read the complete review)
-Paul Acquaro, The Free Jazz Collective
What is striking, memorable, and sets this music apart is the originality and artistry of Eric the guitarist…It’s a tour de force in plectorial artistry. You need to hear it. Eric Hofbauer has it all going on here. (read the complete review)
-Grego Applegate, Gapplegate Guitar and Bass Blog
Eric Hofbauer’s new album comes packaged in what looks like the cover of an old journal, and indeed, the 19 pieces of solo guitar create the effect of a musical journey, in which Hofbauer ranges from the early jazz of “West End Blues” to an intriguing version of the Beatles’ “Dear Prudence,” which opens with the sound of scratchy vinyl. He slashes and burns through a buzzing bottleneck arrangement of Blind Willie Johnson’s “God Moves on the Water.” Ten of the songs are originals, and Hofbauer’s interpretations of other artists’ songs have a strong original feeling to them. In addition to influences from various jazz guitarists on the songs, there is sometimes the feel of John Fahey. Boston musician Garrison Fewell, with whom Hofbauer has collaborated on other projects, writes extensive liner notes, adding dimension to the music presented.
– Mark Z Kasdan Jr., Louisville Music News
1. Kid Justice 2:36
2. Dear Prudence (J. Lennon, P. McCartney – Sony/ATV Tunes LLC) 5:19
3. American Incantation 1:51
4. West End Blues (C. Williams, J. Oliver – Universal Music Corp.) 4:48
5. Beat The Drum 1:16
6. True Colors (T. Kelly, B. Steinberg – Sony/ATV Tunes LLC) 4:43
7. Mileage 1:15
8. Cheer Up, Charlie (L. Bricusse, A. Newley – Taradam Music) 4:20
9. In Memoriam 1:42
10. Pocket Chops 5:02
11. God Moves On The Water (W. Johnson – Alpha Music Inc.) 2:59
12. New American Psalm 1:30
13. Peace (O. Coleman – Kobalt Music) 3:47
14. Today, All Day 1:45
15. Stella By Starlight (N. Washington, V. Young – Catherine Hinen Music) 4:42
16. Ghost In The Machine 1:21
17. Guess I’ll Hang My Tears Out To Dry (S. Cahn, J. Styne – Imagem Music LLC) 4:52
18. And So It Goes 3:01
19. Idumea (And Am I Born To Die?) (A. Davisson; Sacred Harp #47) 1:30
Recorded July 3-6 2012 in CNM studios – Microphones from Notable Productions
Mixed and Mastered by Daniel Cantor at Notable Productions
Executive Producers – Dr. Denise Beaudoin and Dr. Robert Silver, Mary Ellen Bouchard, Joy Hofbauer, and Emile Khoury
Produced by Creative Nation Music – 2012
Artwork, Design and Photo by Benjamin Shaykin
Liner notes by Garrison Fewell
All songs by Eric Hofbauer unless otherwise noted
All songs are single takes without overdubs of any kind, track 19 guitar and piano played simultaneously by Hofbauer.
Eric Hofbauer plays Guild Guitars and uses Traynor Amplifiers.
Eric Hofbauer’s projects are fiscally sponsored by Fractured Atlas
This project was partially funded by donations made through indigogo.