ERIC HOFBAUER "is one of the most genuinely original guitarists of his generation," declares All About Jazz Italia's Mario Calvitti,"capable of renewing the language of jazz guitar with a fresh and iconoclastic approach, but without disrespect to tradition. This distinguishes him from the vast majority of his colleagues, and makes him and his work, worthy of careful consideration.” Hofbauer has been integral to Boston’s jazz scene for twenty-five years, as a musician, bandleader, organizer and educator. Recognized in the 2019 and 2017 DownBeat Critics’ Poll for Rising Star – Guitar, he is widely known for his solo guitar work, featured in a collection of solo guitar recordings (American Vanity, American Fear, American Grace and Ghost Frets), and as the leader of the Eric Hofbauer Quintet (EHQ). The EHQ’s series of four “Prehistoric Jazz” recordings, featuring Hofbauer’s jazz arrangements of Stravinsky, Messiaen, Ellington, and Ives, placed consecutively on the Boston Globe’s Top 10 Jazz Albums of the Year lists, and received critical acclaim from leading press such as Downbeat, The Wire, and Tone Audio. Hofbauer has also 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.
Over the past two decades, Boston-based guitarist/composer Eric Hofbauer has performed and recorded alongside a notable and diverse collection of collaborators, 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. 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!
Either in performance or on record, Hofbauer's stark, personal statements showcase not only his 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.”