Boston-based guitarist/composer Eric Hofbauer made his recorded debut as a bandleader with Myth Understanding (Creative Nation Music CNM 011), featuring working quartet, Eric Hofbauer and The Infrared Band. With the same signature blend of intelligence and whimsy heard on his innovative 2004 solo guitar recording, American Vanity (CNM 003), and The Blueprint Project with Han Bennink’s well-received 2007 release, People I Like (CNM 008), Hofbauer’s newest ensemble explores his intermingling interests in wordplay, mythology and puzzles. “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, featuringeveryone and challenging their limits.” “You can bet profound things are discovered—always in a playful spirit, of course,” writes music journalist Ed Hazell in the liner notes. “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. On this album, the compositions fall into three general categories: compositions based on myths, compositions derived from sung phrases, and what Eric calls (with the inevitable pun) ‘Puzzle Pieces.’”
…[Hofbauer’s] edgy, outsider aesthetic informs this intriguingly original music. Utilizing spiky lines, odd harmonies and dissonant chord clusters (Joe Morris meets “Blood” Ulmer) while also making striking use of space and putting a premium on swing and blues, Hofbauer stakes out fresh territory on tunes like “Jac Mac Talkin’”, “A Drunk Monk” and “The Chump Killer”. Secret weapon Kelly Roberge enlivens these tracks with rare abandon and blowtorch intensity on tenor sax.
—Bill Milkowski, JazzTimes
…Hofbauer brings a wealth of historical antecedents to his playfully inventive compositions. A refreshingly original voice, Hofbauer reveals an affable yet mischievous sensibility in his writing and improvising. Aided by the superlative interpretive abilities of his sidemen, Eric Hofbauer and The Infrared Band make Myth Understanding a sterling debut.
—Troy Collins, AllAboutJazz.com
I’ve always had a weakness for records that combine conceptual hi-jinks with sensusous sounds—records that hit both head and body—records that are complete musical experiences. On Myth Understanding Eric Hofbauer and his Infrared Band offer just that. This record is rewarding on every level.
—Michael Coyle, Cadence
The music here is shot through with quirks so skillfully played that they seem integral to the success of its realization. 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. It all adds up to something special, not least because this is a group which seems to realize that the tradition is no end in itself, but rather something that retains its validity only through periodic but ranging renewal.
—Nic Jones, AllAboutJazz.com
The liner notes give you all the inside dope on guitarist Hofbauer’s compositional strategies—myths, puzzles, martial arts, puns, programmatic narratives. But what’s likely to hit you first is his flair for bluesy, riffing AABA melodies. Yes, he likes to warp expectations with all that gamesmanship, but at his best, he sets up a satisfying songlike tension-and-release from stop-time and odd-meter sections into 4/4 swing.
—Jon Garelick, Boston Phoenix
…a lithe, smart quartet…Myth Understanding’s music speaks, flows and evolves as well as one could hope…It’s great stuff, and Hofbauer’s definitely found the right voices for his brand of avant-postbop.
—Nathan Turk, Signal To Noise
Recommended New Release
—David Adler, AllAboutJazz-New York
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
…a band with a good sense of humor as well as great musical intelligence…it’s low-key yet probing (and challenging) music is quite delightful.
—Richard Kamins, The Middletown Eye
Creative Nation Music, CNM 011
Street Date: June 17, 2008
Eric Hofbauer, guitar
Kelly Roberge, tenor saxophone
Michael Montgomery, acoustic bass
Miki Matsuki, drums
1. Hidden Haiku (8:23)
2. Jac Mac Talkin’ (3:38)
3. A Drunk Monk (9:50)
4. The Chump Killer (7:15)
5. The Holly Stomp (3:40)
6. The Shady Lambert Circus (12:51)
a. Shady Lambert At Large
7. Molecular Mischief (5:52)
8. Fortuna Spins The Wheel (5:17)
9. Flex Flux (11:17)
All compositions by Eric Hofbauer (Spice-E Music/BMI)
Recorded August 2007 at Notable Productions in Watertown, MA