Eric Hofbauer Jazz Guitarist / Composer / Educator

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Eric Hofbauer Quintet – Prehistoric Jazz


Prehistoric Jazz Volume 1 & 2 featured on NPR’s Fresh Air by jazz writer Kevin Whitehead.


Prehistoric Jazz is a concert program and sister recordings (volumes 1 and 2 released in 2014, volume 3 in 2016, volume 4 in 2017) which features Hofbauer’s jazz quintet arrangements of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, Messiaen’s Quartet For The End Of Time, and Charles Ives’ Three Places in New England. The 2016-18 concert seasons features premiere performances of Hofbauer’s newest arrangement of Reminiscing in Tempo, a rare, long-form, through composed piece from 1935 by Duke Ellington. Noted historian and writer Kevin Whitehead defines the “Prehistoric Jazz series [as] less about jazzing the classics than situating the last century’s classical music and classic jazz in the same modernist continuum.”

The program title was inspired by video footage of Leonard Bernstein rehearsing The Rite of Spring in 1987 where he instructs the timpanist to play his part like “prehistoric jazz.” All four of Hofbauer’s quintet arrangements celebrate the common ground between modern jazz and the works of Stravinsky, Messiaen, Ives and Ellington by using the shared rhythmic and harmonic concepts of the 20th century modernists as a bridge to postmodern jazz improvisation. This method of synthesis and reinterpretation has been a part of the jazz tradition from its inception through the work of Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and even Gunther Schuller’s Third Stream movement.

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, as well as appearing on several year-end ‘best of’ lists for new jazz releases. In 2016 Prehistoric Jazz Volume 3 (Three Places in New England) was on the Boston Globe’s Top Ten Jazz Albums list, and featured in Downbeat (4 star review), The WireTone Audio , and Textura magazines, among others. The EHQ also performed at the historic BOZAR Theatre in Brussels Belgium in 2016. The band was part of the “Stravinsky Deconstructed” Festival and helped kick off BOZAR’s jazz concert season.

The quintet features Eric Hofbauer on guitar, Todd Brunel on clarinet and bass clarinet, Jerry Sabatini on trumpet, Junko Fujiwara on cello and Curt Newton on drum set. All of the musicians are accomplished jazz and new music improvisers who also perform in classical and modern music settings.

With four major pieces in the EHQ’s repertoire, the ensemble has over four hours of music to choose from to craft unique programming to fit everything from the concert hall to club stage.  Prehistoric Jazz repertoire can also be tailored for the collegiate community or any arts and culture education-based audience. This concert presentation will complement college or high school course work in aesthetics, music history, jazz studies, post-modernism, or 20th century cultural studies. The ensemble is available for additional workshops and talk-backs with the audience that can be included as part of the presentation of the work.

Five Questions – Interview with Textura Magazine about Prehistoric Jazz and EHQ

Recent Performances and Master Classes

  • Clark University, November 2016 and April 2015: Performance
  • Boston College, November, 2016: Performance (World Premiere of “Reminiscing in Tempo” arrangement)
  • Masconomet Regional High School, November 2016 and March 2014: Performance and Master Classes
  • BOZAR Theatre, Stravinsky Festival, Brussels BE, October 2016: Performance and Talk Back
  • Bing Theater, May 2016:  Performance and Talk Back
  • Longy School of Music of Bard College, November 2015: Performance (World Premiere of “Three Places in New England” arrangement)
  • Bing Theater and New Gallery Concert Series, April and May 2015: Performance and Talk Back
  • Longy School of Music of Bard College, February and March 2014: Performance and Master Class (World Premiere of “Quartet For The End of Time” arrangement)
  • Governor’s Academy, February 2014: Performance and Master Class
  • Boston College, October, 2013: Performance

Master Class and Concert Feedback

“The whole concert was a brilliant success… Here is a vital example of the best in third streaming and this whole experience is certainly a feather in the cap for Eric Hofbauer and his associates.” – Ran Blake, founding chair of New England Conservatory’s Contemporary Improvisation Department

“The Eric Hofbauer Quintet’s improvisation workshop was an exceptional experience for our students. The quintet members were so open and inviting to all of our students. They worked well with both our middle school and high school students. In all my years of teaching I have found it rare to find professional musicians who are equally comfortable performing and teaching.” – Randy O’Keefe, music director at Masconomet Regional High School

“The master class/ lecture given by Eric Hofbauer was well structured, clear and relevant to every member of the jazz ensemble. Students went away with a stronger understanding of phrase structure and note choice when improvising.” – Jeff Miller, Director of Instrumental Studies at the Governor’s Academy 

About Eric Hofbauer

“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, George Garzone, Sean Jones, John Fedchock, Steve Swell and Matt Wilson.

Hofbauer, recently recognized in the 2017 DownBeat Critics’ Poll for Rising Star – Guitar, 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 release Ghost Frets, was described by Chris Haines of The Free Jazz Collective “as a real testament to Hofbauer’s musical style and vision…The playing is virtuosic throughout providing a real master class in creative solo performance.” Ghost Frets is a tribute to Hofbauer’s departed friend and frequent collaborator, Garrison Fewell, and features several Fewell compositions as well as pieces by diverse artists including Eric Dolphy, George Harrison, and the Psychedelic Furs!

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 primary ensemble is the Eric Hofbauer Quintet. The EHQ performs 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, Ellington, 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. The 2016 release Prehistoric Jazz Volume 3 (Three Places in New England) and the 2017 release Prehistoric Jazz Volume 4 (Reminiscing in Tempo) were consecutively on the Boston Globe’s Top 10 Jazz Albums of the Year lists, as well as receiving critical acclaim from Downbeat, The Wire, Tone Audio and other press.

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.

About The Quintet

Todd Brunel is a critically acclaimed clarinetist, saxophonist, and composer who performs extensively as a classical and improvisational musician. He produces The Vortex Series for New and Improvised Music and is a grant recipient from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the Cambridge Arts Council, the Somerville Arts Council and Art Without Borders. Brunel and his various groups have performed at the Montreal Jazz Festival, the Boston Jazz Festival, The National Black Arts Festival, Mobius, The International Woodwind Festival, Preservation Jazz Hall, and the American Microtonal Festival under the direction of Johnny Reinhard. His work with conductor and composer Lawrence D. ‘Butch’ Morris includes the New York Skyscraper Conductions #73-76 at Context and the New England Skyscraper Conductions #151-153. As a classical freelance musician, Mr. Brunel’s performance schedule includes ALEA III, the Boston Chamber Ensemble, the Lexington Symphony, the Bulgarian Virtuosi, The New Bedford Symphony, the Waltham Symphony, the Claflin Hill Symphony and the Chagall Performance Art Collaborative. Brunel teaches at Wheaton College.

Junko Fujiwara is both a creative musician/improviser and an active classical player performing in venues throughout the East Coast and the Midwest. Her current performing groups include: BOLT: Adventurous Improvised Music, The Mimi Rabson Trio, a semi-improvised/original composition trio, Evocation Trio based out of Milwaukee, the Cuban fusion quartet Di Evano Project headed by the world music award-winning Irais diBrito, the classical chamber group Kalliope Piano Trio. Ms. Fujiwara holds cello faculty positions at Boston College, Governor’s Academy, Masconomet Regional School in Topsfield, and Ipswich Public Schools. Ms. Fujiwara has a Master of Music degree from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, and a Bachelor of Music degree from Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin. Junko Fujiwara can be heard on Joe Morris’s recording Camera (ESP 4063) (2010) Mimi Rabson’s Strings Theory (2012), and Evocation Trio’s Ghosts of the Sea (2013).

Curt Newton coaxes whispers from drumsets and swing from old tin cans, weaving various musical traditions together in the spirit of serious playfulness. Over the past three decades, he’s performed jazz and improvised music across the U.S., Canada and Europe, and recorded over 20 CDs with the likes of Ken Vandermark, Joe Morris, Nate McBride, Pandelis Karayorgis, Charlie Kohlhase, and Dave Bryant. He’s also known to lay down grooves for an eclectic mix of Boston-area rock, blues, and songwriters. Curt studied drumset with Bob Gullotti and has a Master’s degree in Jazz Performance from New England Conservatory.

Jerry Sabatini has gained recognition in the Boston jazz scene as an adventurous, creative and diverse trumpet player, composer and educator. Known for his diverse musical tastes, Jerry performs in projects ranging from traditional Jazz to Balkan brass bands to music of the Middle and Far East to the Avant Garde. For the past twenty five years he has been working with many of the New England’s great bands such as The Boston Jazz Composer’s Alliance, The Makanda Project, Garrison Fewell’s Variable Density Orchestra, Mehmet Sanlikol’s Dunya, The Revolutionary Snake Ensemble, and Charlie Kohlhase’s Explorers Club. He has also shared the stage with influential musicians such as Oliver Lake, John Tchicai, Fred Frith, Elliot Sharp, Anthony Coleman, and Erkan Oğur. Since 1995, Jerry has composed and arranged for his own project, an octet called Sonic Explorers. Sonic Explorers have four independently released CDs. Sabatini has been commissioned for modern big band and jazz combo works, teaches privately, and is a frequent clinician and conductor at New England colleges, universities and high schools.


Prehistoric Jazz Volume 3
Creative Nation Music 028

Prehistoric Jazz Volume 2
Creative Nation Music 026

Prehistoric Jazz Volume 1
Creative Nation Music 025


Official video for “Augurs of Spring” from Prehistoric Jazz Volume 1

Official video for “Spring Rounds” from Prehistoric Jazz Volume 1

Eric Hofbauer Quintet – Messiaen's Quatuor Pour la Fin du Temps; Part IV Intermède clip

Eric Hofbauer Quintet – Messiaen's Quatuor Pour la Fin du Temps; Part VI Danse de la Fureur clip

Eric Hofbauer Quintet – Messiaen's Quatuor Pour la Fin du Temps; Part V Louange à l'Éternité

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”


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