With his signature blend of intelligence and whimsy, Boston-based guitarist/composer Eric Hofbauer’s main working ensemble, The Infrared Band, explores his intermingling interests in wordplay, mythology and puzzles. The active quartet, currently featuring tenor saxophonist Kelly Roberge, bassist Sean Farias and drummer Miki Matsuki, released its debut CD, Myth Understanding (CNM 011) in June 2008, and its follow-up, LEVEL, released in June 2011.
“If there’s a single overarching ethos to the band it would be ‘tell your story,'” Hofbauer explains. “All my compositions have a back story or theme and I encourage each player to add their own take on those stories and to play from personal experience. There’s no role playing, I compose to each of their strengths, featuring everyone and challenging their limits.”
“When musicians of this caliber explore their innermost selves,” writes music journalist Ed Hazell in the Myth Understanding liner notes, “using Eric’s composition as the starting point and improvisation as the methodology, you can bet profound things are discovered, always in a playful spirit, of course. But Eric has more to offer than his sense of humor. There’s always a strong concept behind any of Eric’s musical endeavors, whether it’s a composition or a recording.”
Hofbauer’s definitely found the right voices for his brand of avant-postbop.
—Nathan Turk, Signal To Noise
…a band with a good sense of humor as well as great musical intelligence.
—Richard Kamins, The Middletown Eye
Although the precedents for tenor sax-guitar-bass-drums quartets are many, they still manage to make something fresh out of it, and in a manner so easy that it might leave listeners wondering why so few musicians seem to manage it.
—Nic Jones, AllAboutJazz.com
Fans of Joe Morris and Mary Halvorson will dig this.
—Bill Milkowski, JazzTimes
Wherever these guys roam, the thematic material is never far from sight, and there’s always deliberation in what they do. Maybe Antoine Batiste would like it and maybe he wouldn’t. But somewhere, Charles Mingus is smiling.
—Jon Garelick, Boston Phoenix
Hofbauer and his band embrace modernity over tradition, that very particular post-bop modern that can be traced from the Second Great Miles Davis Quintet and its offshoots through to such Dave Holland recordings as Extensions.
—Colin Buttimer, BBC Music
Eric Hofbauer & The Infrared Band’s LEVEL might be trying to conjure up modern day mythology, but the sophistication and virtuosity that went into making these recordings is no made up story. No, these guys are for real.
—S. Victor Aaron, Something Else!
The quartet serves as a bright showcase for Hofbauer’s multi-layered music, which basks in the contrapuntal and the conversational and is stocked with narrative lines and mythological allusions.
—Owen McNally, Hartford Courant
Saxophonist Kelly Roberge is an able foil for Hofbauer, and their rhythm section is terrifically agile.
—Jim Macnie, Providence Phoenix