“Eric Hofbauer has become a significant force in Boston’s improvised-music scene,” declares Stereophile’s David R. Adler. “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 guitarists,” he writes.
Hofbauer has been an integral member of Boston’s jazz scene as a musician, bandleader, organizer and educator for the past twenty years. He has performed and recorded alongside such notable collaborators as Han Bennink, Roy Campbell, Jr., John Tchicai, Garrison Fewell, Cecil McBee, Steve Swell and Matt Wilson.
Hofbauer is perhaps best known for his solo guitar work featured in a trilogy of solo guitar recordings (American Vanity, American Fear and American Grace). Of the trilogy, Andrew Gilbert of The Boston Globe writes, “No other guitarist in jazz has developed a solo approach as rigorous, evocative, and thoughtful as Hofbauer. His most recent solo album, 2016’s Ghost Frets, was inspired by his friendship and creative collaborations (including their critically acclaimed release The Lady of Khartoum, CNM010) with Garrison Fewell, the Boston-based guitarist, author, and jazz educator who passed away in 2015.
Hofbauer has earned critical acclaim for his work in a variety of musical projects, including recordings with the Garrison Fewell’s Variable Density Orchestra, The Pablo Ablanedo Octet(o), Charlie Kohlhase’s Explorer’s Club, and The Blueprint Project with Han Bennink among others. His newest group is the Eric Hofbauer Quintet. The EHQ preforms Hofbauer’s jazz arrangements of groundbreaking 20th century pieces which he describes as “prehistoric jazz.” These arrangements celebrate the common ground between modern jazz and the works of Stravinsky, Messiaen and Ives by using the shared rhythmic and harmonic concepts of the 20th century modernists as a bridge to postmodern jazz improvisation. In November of 2014 the EHQ recordings Prehistoric Jazz Volume 1 (The Rite of Spring) and Volume 2 (Quartet for The End of Time) were featured on NPR’s Fresh Air by noted jazz writer Kevin Whitehead.
Hofbauer received a Master’s degree from New England Conservatory and a Bachelor’s degree from Oberlin Conservatory. He directs the big band and combos at Clark University, where he also teaches jazz theory and history. Hofbauer lectures on jazz history at Emerson College, and has for the past 19 years. He has also been visiting professor at Wellesley College and the University of Rhode Island. In 2009, he was honored with the Massachusetts Cultural Council Artist Fellowship in Music Composition.
On Redoubtblog.com in March 2013. Interview by Wade Tilton about solo guitar concepts, themes in the American Trilogy and the release of American Grace.
On BBC 3’s Jazz on 3 in Nov. 2010. Interview by John Fordham with solo set of American Fear repertoire.
On The Jazz Session with Jason Crane. Interview about American Fear, CNM and other projects.
CLICK HERE – For full audio of interview.
Feature Article in The Boston Globe. Interview about American Grace, Infrared Band and other projects.
Over the past decade, Boston-based guitarist/composer Eric Hofbauer has performed and recorded alongside such notable collaborators as Han Bennink, Roy Campbell, Jr., Garrison Fewell, Charlie Kohlhase, Cecil McBee, Steve Swell and Matt Wilson, but he is perhaps best known for his innovative work as a solo artist.
His three acclaimed solo guitar releases, American Vanity (Creative Nation Music, 2004), American Fear (Creative Nation Music, 2010) and American Grace (Creative Nation Music, 2012), represent a trilogy of recordings that dissect and examine American culture through spontaneous original compositions and stripped-down interpretations of musical touchstones that span country, jazz and rock.
These stark, personal statements showcase not only Hofbauer’s undeniable skills as a musician, but also his trademark intelligence and humor, as he deftly puts his own affable, sometimes jaw-dropping spin on the music of everyone from Johnny Cash and Hank Williams to Andrew Hill and Charlie Parker to Nirvana and Van Halen.
“Technically Hofbauer can obviously play the standard jazz guitar game,” writes Signal To Noise’s Robert Iannapollo, “but it’s clear he doesn’t want to be hemmed in by the clichés of its tradition.”
Critics have called his music “intriguingly original” (Bill Milkowski, JazzTimes), “both mischievous and playful” (Edwin Pouncey, Jazzwise) and “as unassumingly compelling as anything out there” (Nic Jones, AllAboutJazz.com).
In his review of American Fear, AllAboutJazz-New York’s Tom Greenland adds, “For all its variety, drawing on recognizable elements of jazz and other musical traditions, Hofbauer’s voice emerges here unique and distinct, blending the comedic with the tragic—and having some serious fun.”
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Cult of Personality – Live at Third Life Studio 2/20/16
Let’s Cool One & Ayleristic from “Ghost Frets” – Live at Third Life Studio 2/20/16
Buddy Bolden’s Blues – From “Ghost Frets” recording session 1/8/16
Solo Guitar Set Part 1 – ‘American Grace’ Tour 9/18/13, Lily Pad, Cambridge MA.
Solo Guitar Set Part 2 – ‘American Grace’ Tour 9/18/13, Lily Pad, Cambridge MA.
Solo Guitar Set – from 2/12/12, House Concert, Somerville MA
‘Everybody Wants To Rule The World’ – from 11/2010 Providence RI, solo show
‘Moose The Mooche’ – from 11/2010 Providence RI, solo show
‘Hot For Teacher’ – from 11/2010 Providence RI, solo show