Eric Hofbauer Jazz Guitarist / Composer / Educator

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In The Past – Old EH Blog Posts
Ghost Frets – New Solo Album Released!!

Ghost Frets, my latest solo guitar album, dedicated to my dear friend and fellow six string samurai, Garrison Fewell is now available as of 9/16/16. It features a couple of songs by Garrison including Ayleristic and Blues Update, plus a tune G and I used to love to play in our duo concerts, Monk’s Let’s Cool One. As with all Hofbauer solo outings there has to been wacky covers and this one keeps to that maxim with The Ghost in You by the Psychedelic Furs and All Things Must Pass by my fave of the fab four, George Harrison. I also do two jazz classics from vastly different styles, Out to Lunch by Eric Dolphy and Buddy Bolden’s Blues by Joe “King” Oliver (see video clip from studio session below), plus several original compositions for solo guitar.  Ghost Frets is now available for PURCHASE at With the order you get the download format of your choice (along with a digital booklet with awesome liner notes by jazz critic and historian David R. Adler). BTW this album is a DIGITAL ONLY release! I’m trying something new and joining the future. Click the player below to hear Ayleristic and Let’s Cool One and place your ORDER! This is a collection of very personal music predominantly about or inspired by my friendship and collaborations with Garrison, I recorded it entirely acoustic (no amps, overdubs or effects) on my Guild Artist Award so it is intimate yet dynamic. I’m honored to share it with the world. Feel free to share your feedback. Thanks always for your support and interest.

Awaken the Dragon – The Return of Solo Guitar & Garrison Fewell

I have taken a long break from solo guitar. Hell, I have taken a long break from posting a blog on ye olde home page. Life sometimes has a way of creating obstacles which prevent getting everything done on that “to do” list. It began in summer of 2015 when my best friend, Garrison Fewell, passed away of cancer. He was a such a positive force in my personal and professional life. His encouragement, wisdom, compassion and creative camaraderie has been sorely missed and debilitatingly so. We (several of Garrison’s Boston musician friends/collaborators) gave a wonderful tribute concert in November ’15 called Invisible Resonance: The Music of Garrison Fewell. You can watch the entire concert on the linked Youtube channel. Some powerful stuff from all the musicians involved. After that, I lost focus, maybe even lost my faith a bit, in music, in “jazz” in my purpose as a guitarist and educator. I was in “lower my head and just get through the day” mode most of the fall and winter. Yet there were a few bright spots, although I was not too motivated to hustle up gigs and play for, or with, anyone, I was practicing. Not just the usual amount for my schedule, I was playing WAY more than usual, logging in undergrad or grad school type hours on the instrument. Out of that work and solitude, I heard a voice. The voice of my most ardent and encouraging fan of my solo guitar playing… Garrison. The man who once told me there were only two people who scared him on the guitar, Joe Pass and myself, spoke to me in the contemplative silences between the resonating strings… “Keep Going” he said, “This is what you need to do”.  It was obvious! I had been ignoring one of my favorite things to do (playing solo) in music because I was having a 6 month long pity party for myself that no one gave a fuck about. It was only hurting me and my career and certainly not celebrating or honoring my dear friend in the process either! Well, Garrison’s voice has poked the dragon awake. Not only did I decide to make another solo recording, I was going to play to honor and celebrate Garrison’s music and life with it. So in early Jan ’16 I piggy backed onto a pre-existing session (the EHQ’s Prehistoric Jazz Vol. 3: Ives’ Three Places in New England… more on that album and how the band crushed it! soon). So Friday night at Rotary Records in Springfield MA, my main man Warren and I cut the new solo album. The next morning the EHQ swung by and we cut PJ V3. Basically in about 22 hours I made two albums of music. Sometimes it still perplexes me how I could play so much without my hands  or my focus, giving out. But… I swear he was there, as always, encouraging me with positive feelings and love. There are several cuts on the solo album where I heard two guitar when I was playing, like he was there and we were digging into one of our celestially synchronized searches. He used to alway remark when we played duo that he could not discern who was playing what, even when he watched his own fingers. We would listen back to a concert and he would say “who played that, I don’t remember playing that? I don’t even know what that is”. Yet it was his playing he was listening to, but we had a way of pulling much more out of each other than we could pull out of ourselves either solo or in other groups. This may sound stupid, but that night in the studio, cutting my tribute to Garrison, it was not a solo recording, it was duo all the way because his spirit was still pulling MORE out of me than I even could on my own. Ask Warren how many times I said “who played that? I don’t remember playing that?” when we listened to the play back. I’m very honored to have been given a chance to record music by and inspired by Garrison Fewell. I recorded his compositions “Blues Update” and “Ayleristic” as well as “Let’s Cool One” which was a favorite of our’s from our duo CD “The Lady of Khartoum”. I also did some improvisations with Garrison in my heart and ear (and fingers) as well as a few other tunes that spoke to me personally about loss, friendship, and hope. It turns out this album is deeply rooted in the blues, there are several blues based tunes on it, but even the free pieces speak using that forked tongue of joy and pain. It is fitting I feel. I will post updates and little sneak peeks of the music on this blog in the next few weeks and months. See when you poke a dragon awake it takes time to get that thing up and about. Those slow thighs take time to raise that body up, there are sparks in the belly that need to be stoked before the dragon’s head raises up and fire-breathing begins. Little steps first, get that mix right, book a gig or two, work on the packaging… all those things are “slouching towards Bethlehem” (as Yeats says). Soon the dragon will be in full flight (with more concerts, tributes, tours, CDs etc etc.) for now I have a wonderful video from the studio of “Buddy Bolden’s Blues” and some concert footage of “Cult of Personality” and “Let’s Cool One” and Garrison’s “Ayleristic” from Feb. ’16. Thank you Garrison for waking the dragon, I promise not to let you down.

“Cult of Personality” performed by Eric Hofbauer from Infinite Momentum on Vimeo.

“Let’s Cool One” and “Ayleristic” :: Eric Hofbauer from Infinite Momentum on Vimeo.

EHQ Music Video and Prehistoric Jazz Goes Digital

The Eric Hofbauer Quintet is kicking off summer with the digital release of the critically acclaimed sister recordings, Prehistoric Jazz Volume 1 – The Rite of Spring and Prehistoric Jazz Volume 2 – Quatour pour la fin du temps. Both recordings are now available through most digital retailers, including i-tunes and youtube. 

In addition, Warren Amerman from Rotary Records, who recorded both Prehistoric Jazz releases, recently shot and edited a music video of ‘The Augurs of Spring’ from Prehistoric Jazz Volume 1! It is rare to see a serious production-value music video of jazz, or most other instrumental music for that matter, especially one able to capture the spirit of improvisation and group interaction through the camera angles and film editing. Very cool!

All About Jazz & The Whole Note – Reviews of EHQ Prehistoric Jazz Vol. 1 and 2

The reviews keep coming, this time from the expert and detailed oriented jazz critics Mark F. Turner (All About Jazz) and Ken Waxman (The Whole Note). Click the links for full reviews.

Just a reminder… CD’s can still be purchased at the links below.

AMAZON – Volume 1 and 2 in package deal

BAND CAMP – individual CDs or digital version

“With sure workmanship and untamed inquisitiveness, Boston-based guitarist Eric Hofbauer is no stranger to confronting unusual yet stimulating music. Examples include 2008’s uncharacteristic guitar duo The Lady of Khartoum with Garrison Fewell or the strikingAmerican solo series—American Vanity (2004), American Fear (2010) and American Grace(2013)—which crossed distinctive terrains of improvisation and covers of iconic pieces suchLouis Armstrong‘s “West End Blues,” Cindy Lauper’s “True Colors” and a raucous take on rock group Van Halen’s “Hot for Teacher.”

So with a new quintet and his imaginative proclivity it’s not a stretch for Hofbauer to set his sights on the music of two early 20th century composers with his Prehistoric Jazz volumes brought to fruition through a concert series and two recordings which illuminate the art of a jazz improvisation and artistic liberties of Russian composer Igor Stravinsky’s iconic 1913 ballet and orchestral concert masterpiece—Le Sacre du printemps (The Rite of Spring) and French composer Olivier Messiaen’s 1941 Quatuor pour la fin du temps (Quartet for the End of Time).” – Mark F. Turner, All About Jazz

“For most people “prehistoric jazz” means W.C. Handy or Buddy Bolden, yet Boston-based Eric Hofbauer puts a post-modern spin on the concept. Recognizing that advanced improvisation takes as much from the so-called classical tradition as jazz, he reworks two 20th-century musical milestones into separate programs for trumpeter Jerry Sabatini, clarinetist Todd Brunel, cellist Junko Fujiwara and drummer Curt Newton plus his own guitar. Each is handled differently.

The studied primitivism of Igor Stravinsky’s symphonic The Rite of Spring is miniaturized with each player standing in for a different orchestral section. The result is as rousing and romantic as the original score, but with openings for distinctive solos that rhythmically extend the composer’s ur-modernism. Originally composed for a chamber ensemble, Olivier Messiaen’s Quatuor pour la fin du temps is implemented with as much joyous ecstasy as the composer intended, but stripped of its overt Christian mysticism.” – Ken Waxman, The Whole Note

“If this is Prehistoric, it’s also timeless” – More press for EHQ

In the last month or so since our NPR feature piece (see post below) on Fresh Air, there has been a wonderful windfall of overwhelmingly positive, dare I say it, rave, reviews for the Eric Hofbauer Quintet’s releases “Prehistoric Jazz Volume 1 & 2”. Below are some highlights, including an appearance on the culture journal, Burning Ambulance’s “Best 25 Jazz Records of 2014” list.

“An interesting blend of old-timey music, classical, and avant-garde clatter and squeak…both provide opportunities for the various members of the group to take extended, introspective solos, or dialogue with each other, as the mood dictates”
Burning Ambulance Top 25 of 2014 (#14)

“It’s really hard to choose one volume over the other so be wise and purchase both.  This music will bring you hours of pleasure as you listen to the care and attention Eric Hofbauer put into making “The Rite of Spring” and “Quintet for the End of Time.” While it’s clear the Quintet can and does play with great virtuosity, this music is also emotionally strong and heartfelt.” – Richard Kamins, Step Tempest Blog

“Boston-based, top tier guitarist eric hofbauer uses his quintet to shake the cobwebs out of birthing the universe” – Ann Porotti, WTJU 91.1FM UVA Radio

“There are so many interesting cross-references at work here, Hofbauer seems to have thought of everything. First of all, the sound and approach of this ensemble often sounds a bit like 1920s jazz, which would have been the era in which “Rite” could have been first played as an experimental jazz piece. None of this is obvious or ‘museum like’ as Hofbauer also draws on many modern elements such as free improvisation and more. The 20s sound of the ensemble and the modern NYC eclectic influences blend seamlessly, the end result is a piece that fits well with the music of today… Eric Hofbauer’s version of “The Rite of Spring” never gets boring or predictable, the main melodies of the piece come and go while they mix with all manner of diversions and excursions. Eric is able to accent the modernist elements of this piece, both in the context of its time period and today, and show the connecting similarities in both decades. This rendition really brings new life to Stravinsky’s creation, and I think Igor would have enjoyed hearing it. The added plus is Hofbauer’s guitar playing, which somehow can capture some of the color of Stravinsky’s original orchestrations.”
Jazz Music

“Guitarist Eric Hofbauer does things his own way, in ways other people generally don’t. But he steps further beyond the expected these days with a two-volume offering that takes some contemporary 20th century milestone classical compositions and arranges them for a jazz-centered quintet….The band has their hands full realizing the motifs and getting loose and free improvisationally, or even at times sounding like an early jazz band and/or Duke’s Jungle period outfit, too. Much credit goes to the arrangements/arranger, and to the sextet itself also for their creative transformations.” – Grego Applegate Edwards, Gapplegate Guitar and Bass Blog

“As with volume one Eric does not give you an end-to-end transcription of the original work, but instead selects key motives and sections, giving the themes to various instrumental combinations and slanting the phrases at times for a more jazzed reading. The Messiaen really lends itself to this treatment, and Eric makes much out of the music so that it convinces fully as jazz for today. There are certain passages of the work that sound so boppish you’d think Messiaen meant them that way. Kudos to Hofbauer for hearing the potential and realizing it so well. Eric, Jerry and Todd get some really interesting solos going too, at times simultaneously. It is no easy feat to pull this off, but Hofbauer and company do so with style, swinging heat and smarts. This one brings it on home! Many stars, if I rated things that way. Highly recommended! – Grego Applegate Edwards, Gapplegate Guitar and Bass Blog

“Perhaps the most adventurous attempt at a renaissance fusion of what has been referred to as “third stream” music… Jazz and classical have an unspoken wall of theory placed between them. Guitarist Eric Hofbauer has just shattered the wall and raised the bar for modern composition across the board….The Eric Hofbauer Quintet is magnificent… To refer to Hofbauer as a modern if not impressionistic virtuoso is not a stretch, and the quintet is first rate with the amazing ability to perform with a sound twice their size. (These recordings) are the personification of passion on a shiny silver disc.
Brent Black, Critical Jazz (Bop-n-Jazz)

“Prehistoric Jazz Volume 1 & 2” are available at Amazon and Band Camp.

Eric Hofbauer Quintet’s ‘Prehistoric Jazz Volume 1 & 2’ on NPR’s Fresh Air

Jazz writer Kevin Whitehead reviews ‘Prehistoric Jazz Volume 1 & 2’ on NPR’s Fresh Air. I am very honored to have had these recording, which features my recompositions of ‘The Rite of Spring’ and ‘Quartet for the End of Time’ featured on Fresh Air. The review is particularly poetic and filled with imagery which I believe delves deeply into the narrative of these recordings. I am proud to share this recording and these CDs with you. Visit the NPR Site. or listen below.

Eric Hofbauer Quintet’s “Prehistoric Jazz – Volume 1 and 2” Released Oct. 28th

Exciting NPJVol1ews, CNM (Creative Nation Music) has released the Eric Hofbauer Quintet’s debut recordings “Prehistoric Jazz -Volume 1 & Volume 2”. Volume 1 features my arrangement of Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring” and Volume 2 features my arrangement of Messiaen’s “Quartet for the End of PJVol2Time”. Both feature the quintet of myself, Jerry Sabatini on trumpet, Todd Brunel on clarinet, Junko Fujiwara on cello and Curt Newton on drums. We recorded both CD’s on an early spring weekend in April and we are excited to have them simultaneously released on Oct. 28th. Both are available for sale sold as a set on AMAZON. Or visit the BAND PAGE to buy them separately or as a digital download from This release is something of a collector’s edition. It has wonderfully insightful liner notes by the world class jazz writer and historian, David Adler. The brilliant and talented Warren Amerman (Rotary Records) did the recording, mixing and mastering (and these discs sound incredible! you really have to hear them to believe it). My designer extraordinaire, Benjamin Shaykin (who has designed several CNM classic releases including American Fear and American Grace) did the design. What perhaps makes this really a collector’s release is the packaging. Dan Wood (a colleague of Ben’s) did a letter press printing for
the liner notes and packaging. Letter press is the OLD way of printing using presses, typesetting and inks. The packaging is locally made (Providence RI) and hand-crafted. Each one is a wonderfully textured mini work of art. It is an unique way to package such a personally meaningful project. I, and the whole quintet are excited and honored to share this music with you all. Enjoy! and Thank you!



Curating Jazz Playlists on Songza!

Eric Hofbauer Quintet at the Church of the Advent Library Concert Series, 2/7/14

On Feb. 7, 2014 the Eric Hofbauer Quintet performed as part of Matt Samolis’ Church of the Advent Library Concert Series. Matt’s single camera shot frames the band nicely in the confines of the brick lined library stage. The sound quality is good and the full house gave us some wonderful energy to work with. These videos capture the band in command of this demanding material in such a way that the written material and improvisations blur into a fully realized expression of individuality and dialogue. Its my favorite footage of us to date.

CLIP #1: “A Kiss Of The Earth” – “Procession Of The Oldest And Wisest One”

CLIP #2: “The Kiss Of The Earth” – “The Exalted Sacrifice”

CLIP #3: “Mystic Circle Of The Young Girls” – “Sacrificial Dance”

‘American Grace’ Solo Tour Reflections

The Autumn 2013 solo tour has ended. It was a grand adventure, as expected. I got to play in NYC and play a set of Steve Lacy tunes with Josh Sinton and Tomas Fujiwara of Ideal Bread. Then I got to catch up with my old teacher and good friend Robert Ferrazza at Oberlin, as I headed out to Chicago. Once there I played with two of my favorite improvisers on the scene today. Tim Daisy and Dave Rempis, we did a trio set and the rumor from some of the musicians in attendance was that our set was some of the best improvising they have heard all year. I am honored and look forward to playing with them again next year! I finished the tour in Toledo OH at the Robinwood Concert House. What an awesome scene!!! It was my favorite gig of the tour, Gabe, who runs the series is a passionate curator, producer and musician, the jazz and improvisation scene needs more amazing people like Gabe in it. The sets were a blast the crowd was deep into it and we stayed up into the wee hours talking about art and philosophy and life… its the kind of experience you live for on the road, its why I do this music thing… to connect with people in honest and revealing ways. I look forward to touring out to the midwest again next year.. it will become a yearly thing for me now.

I am very lucky to have some of my playing documented from the tour. I have added two  clips that were shot by my good friend and exquisite drummer extraordinaire Curt Newton (fellow member of the Eric Hofbuaer Quintet – Prehistoric Jazz project). It is from the Boston show at the Lily Pad on Sept 18th. I played straight through, a 45 minute solo set, improvising from one place to another, hitting various themes and tunes along the way. Video #1 features Dear Prudence (The Beatles) into West End Blues (Joe Oliver) into Dewey Square (Charlie Parker)Video #2 features a tune of mine, Pocket Chops into the folk tune by Blind Willie Johnson, God Moves On The Water. 

Video #1

Eric Hofbauer solo @ Lily Pad Part 1

Video #2

Eric Hofbauer solo @ Lily Pad part 2

I was also lucky to get some print attention while on tour as well with some great preview and review articles in outlets such as The Village Voice, The Chicago Reader and Fuse Jazz Review. I have posted a few quotes and links to the complete articles. My next goal for the solo tour is to take it out to the west coast in the spring… time to start booking!!!    A profound THANK YOU! to all who came out to see my shows, buy CDs,  and support the music.

“An enthusiastic and attentive audience showed up at the Boston area stop of our own Eric Hofbauer 8/18 at the Lily Pad during his tour of the Northeast and Midwest.  Being attentive was the smart thing to do, whether one focusses on Eric’s remarkable technical prowess or the far more remarkable music he makes.  Being a Hofbauer guitar fan, I have witnessed his solo work several times over the years and always with great pleasure.  This certainly was his most impressive outing.” – Boston Jazz Scene (full review)

“There’s something deceptive about the informality the Boston guitarist brings to his solo work: On the recent American Grace he makes dabbling a fine art.” – Jim Macnie, Village Voice (full preview)

“Hofbauer is a terrific player, treating original tunes, jazz standards, modern pop-rock songs, and blues with a distinctive touch; gnarled, melodic, spikey, and dense. There’s a deep affection for the material inherent in his interpretations, and that familiarity and ease allows him to take some of the tunes to surprising places.” – Peter Margasak, The Chicago Reader (full preview)

“Eric Hofbauer doesn’t play his big hollow-bodied Guild guitar very loud — at least not by today’s standards — but few people get more sheer guitar sound out of their instruments.” – Jon Garelick, The Fuse Jazz Review (full review)