Over the course of 15 tracks, Fewell and Hofbauer augment their guitars with preparations, unusual tunings and percussion ranging from African ribbed drum sticks to antique Afghan and Moroccan jewelry to bells from India and the African Yoruba tribe. The pieces, most of which are improvised, reference such diverse elements as Congolese mythology, Delta blues, Sun Ra, a muezzin's call to prayer and the sonorities of traditional instruments such as the kora and African thumb piano. The duo also adds two original compositions to the mix, as well as interpretations of music by Thelonious Monk and John Tchicai.
It seemed to both Garrison and Eric that the music of several cultures, reshaped over several tempestuous centuries, pulses through jazz of the 21st century," writes journalist Ed Hazell in the liner notes. And they put that knowledge to use in subtle and beautiful ways on this album of duets. Following the logic of improvisation's eternal present, [they] have synthesized the music of centuries into something organic to the moment...an album of music that stepped out of a deeper understanding of history into a deeper knowledge of our common humanity."
Garrison Fewell's distinguished career as a performer and educator spans more than 30 years. Known as one of today's most personal guitar players" (Boston Phoenix), he has recorded as a leader/co-leader for the Accurate, Boxholder, Koch, Soul Note and Splasc(H) labels with groups featuring such prominent musicians as George Cables, Billy Hart, Fred Hersch, Charlie Kohlhase, Cecil McBee, John Tchicai and Matt Wilson. A Professor of Guitar and Ear Training at Berklee College of Music since 1977, he has also given clinics at dozens of conservatories and festivals across Europe and is the author of the best-selling book, Jazz Improvisation For Guitar: A Melodic Approach (Berklee Press).
Equally well known for his playing as his efforts as an organizer, Eric Hofbauer personifies the DIY ethic of the new generation of jazz musicians. He has collaborated with many of the Boston music scene's most respected improvisers, while at the same time creating performance and recording opportunities for others under the auspices of his label, Creative Nation Music. His own diverse discography includes his acclaimed 2004 solo debut, American Vanity, a duo CD with vocalist Rebecca Shrimpton and three recordings with the decade-old trio, The Blueprint Project, which recently earned a Boston Music Award nomination based on the strength of its 2007 release, People I Like, featuring Han Bennink.
The Creative Nation Music label grew out of a concert series at a local Boston creative music venue, and since 2004 has focused on introducing the rest of the world to some of the scene's most distinctive musicians. In addition to The Lady of Khartoum, new releases from Merega/Tronzo/Kaplan, Quartet of Happiness and Eric Hofbauer and The Infrared Band are planned for 2008. Creative Nation Music releases are distributed by City Hall Records and the Independent Online Distribution Alliance (IODA).