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
Boston's Creative Nation Music is proud to announce the June 17th release of Myth Understanding (Creative Nation Music CNM 011), the debut release from guitarist/composer Eric Hofbauer's year- old working quartet, The Infrared Band. With the same signature blend of intelligence and whimsy heard on his innovative 2004 solo 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. When I decided to put together a permanent lineup for the band, I handpicked tenor saxophonist Kelly Roberge (who, like me, studied at Oberlin with Don Walden), bassist Michael Montgomery (who was recommended by a mutual friend) and drummer Miki Matsuki (who I worked with in Charlie Kohlhase's band). There's no role playing, I compose to each of their strengths, featuring everyone and challenging their limits."
When musicians of this caliber explore their innermost selves," writes music journalist Ed Hazell in the liner notes, using Eric's composition as the starting point and improvisation as the methodology, you can bet profound things are discovered--always in a playful spirit, of course. 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.'"
On his previous recordings, critics have noted Hofbauer's crisp and complete guitar work" (Walter Tunis, Lexington Herald-Leader), accessible approach that emphasizes clear articulation and perky harmony" (Jim Santella, Cadence) and respect for tradition without treating it like glass" (Mark Keresman, JazzReview.com). Hofbauer's performances are as unconventional as his choice of repertoire," adds Boston Phoenix Associate Arts Editor, Jon Garelick. He plays a big Guild hollow-bodied archtop without extra effects, preferring a dry, unprocessed acoustic sound that emphasizes his percussive attack, the squeak or ping of plectrum or bare finger against string."
Based in Boston for the past decade, Hofbauer has built a career as a versatile performer in an eclectic range of ensembles. In addition to solo performances and leading The Infrared Band, his current projects include his duo with vocalist Rebecca Shrimpton and the longstanding collective, The Blueprint Project, which he co-leads with multi-reedist Jared Sims and pianist Tyson Rogers. He also works in a guitar duo with Garrison Fewell, which released its own debut, The Lady of Khartoum (CNM 010), in March. Hofbauer is also a teacher of jazz guitar and jazz history at Emerson College and the University of Rhode Island, and founder of the Creative Nation Music label, which documents the music of many of Boston's most distinctive jazz performers.