Born: January 31, 1974 Primary Instrument: Guitar
“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.”
Hofbauer has been an integral member of Boston’s jazz scene as a musician, bandleader, organizer and educator for the past fifteen years. Where he has performed and recorded alongside such notable collaborators as Han Bennink, Roy Campbell, Jr., John Tchicai, Garrison Fewell, Cecil McBee, Steve Swell and Matt Wilson.
Hofbauer 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”.
Hofbauer has also earned critical acclaim for his work in a variety of musical projects, including recordings with the Garrison Fewell/Eric Hofbauer Duo, Garrison Fewell’s Variable Density Sound Orchestra, The Pablo Ablanedo Octet(o) and The Blueprint Project with Han Bennink. In 2007, he founded his own group, Eric Hofbauer & The Infrared Band, which released its debut Myth Understanding (CNM 011) 2008 and followed up with LEVEL (CNM 020) in 2011. Most recently, he has been performing with BOLT, an electro-acoustic improvising quartet featuring the notable Dutch free jazz saxophonist, Jorrit Dijkstra, and the new Eric Hofbauer Quintet, a modern jazz project featuring Hofbauer compositions.
Hofbauer teaches jazz composition, guitar, and jazz history at Emerson College and the University of Rhode Island. In 2009, he was honored with the Massachusetts Cultural Council Artist Fellowship in Music Composition.
Awards:2009 Massachusetts Cultural Council Artist Fellowship in Music Composition
Eric Hofbauer has become a significant force in Boston’s improvised-music scene… 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 plectrists. - David R. Adler, Stereophile
American Grace mingles original Hofbauer compositions witha selection of covers judicious enough to rival the books of Brad Mehldeau and the Bad Plus… American Grace is an abundantly expressive and fully affecting guitar recording. - Jeff Tamarkin, JazzTimes
Hofbauer plays the guitar like Derek Bailey, if Derek Bailey happened to be born in Mississippi instead of Sheffield England. He chisels sounds both primitive and modern, sometimes simultaneously…In his hands, a guitar can reconfigure “West End Blues” as free jazz or morph Sammy Cahn’s classic “Guess I’ll Hang My Tears Out To Dry” into a devotional melody. Hofbauer reconfigures melodies as if he were a modern primitive, discovering these methods of music-making afresh. - Mark Corroto, All About Jazz
American Grace (has) an ambiance that is a rare commodity in the world of modern jazz guitar. The kicker being Hofbauer transcends jazz and most any generic label most critics would insist he be placed under. Eric Hofbauer is an artist. (5 star review) - @CriticalJazz
Guitarist Eric Hofbauer has created a masterful showcase with American Grace, a mix of folk, jazz, blues and rock styles. Or, perhaps best described as a deep exploration of American music. Unadorned and uninhibited, the acoustic guitar is recorded clearly, preserved in sonic crystal. -Paul Acquaro, The Free Jazz Collective
What is striking, memorable, and sets this music apart is the originality and artistry of Eric the guitarist…It’s a tour de force in plectorial artistry. You need to hear it. Eric Hofbauer has it all going on here. -Grego Applegate, Gapplegate Guitar and Bass Blog
LEVEL is an impressive contemporary jazz
of space and fierce intelligence.
—Colin Buttimer, BBC
Here’s the tension between structure and freedom that
defined that first album (Myth Understanding,
so much of the best post-’60s avant-garde. But here’s the
thing: Hofbauer has developed a hard-bopper’s skill with
hooky song forms. Wherever these guys roam, the thematic
material is never far from sight, and there’s always
deliberation in what they do. If you’re going to experiment,
with authority. Somewhere, Charles Mingus is smiling.
—Jon Garelick, Boston Phoenix
Back in 2008 this band—the only change here being bassist
Sean Farias in for Michael Montgomery—produced one of the
best albums of that year. In 2011, they’ve gone and done it
again. Like Thelonious Monk, Herbie Nichols and Andrew Hill,
guitarist Eric Hofbauer’s music benefits enormously from
having the right musicians to bring it to fruition, and in
instance he’s blessed…with the extraordinary depth of
empathetic interplay that clearly comes quite naturally to
these players…a band with no agenda other than that of
making highly distinctive music.
—Nic Jones, AllAboutJazz.com
Eric Hofbauer & The Infrared Band’s LEVEL might
trying to conjure up modern day mythology, but the
sophistication and virtuosity that went into making these
recordings is no made up story. No, these guys are for real.
—S. Victor Aaron, Something Else!
For all its variety, drawing on recognizable elements of
and other musical traditions, Hofbauer’s voice emerges here
unique and distinct, blending the comedic with the tragic—
having some serious fun.
—Tom Greenland, AllAboutJazz-New York
I’ve never heard anyone play the guitar like that before.
There’s so much going on in there and it’s quite
to listen to—a lot of tremendous energy and that real self-
propelling rhythmic feel as if he had his own built-in
—John Fordham, BBC Radio 3's Jazz on 3
Over the course of successive releases he has proved
himself to be one of the great original voices and this solo
guitar recital proves it in spades. He seemingly and
effortlessly has forged a highly individual instrumental
vocabulary and this, allied with a harmonic sense that's by
turns sly and steeped in wit, is one of the hallmarks of his
work...music as unassumingly compelling as anything out
—Nic Jones, AllAboutJazz.com
It's guitarists like Eric Hofbauer that can make life so
—John Garratt, PopMatters.com
...Hofbauer plunders the songbooks of musicians such as
Andrew Hill, Johnny Cash, Charlie Parker and Fats Waller
smashing their various styles together in an acoustic guitar
pile up that is both mischievous and playful. Wedged between
these experiments are Hofbauer’s own compositions bearing
titles such as “Monsters In The Closet”, Broke Down...
Breakdown” and “American Wonder that burrow deep into
the memory and refuse to budge.
—Edwin Pouncey, Jazzwise
...he makes it clear that he won’t settle for what his
can do when he can explore what it really ain’t supposed to.
—Kevin Le Gendre, BBC Music
...a guitarist/composer and bold transgressor of traditional
—Owen McNally, Hartford Courant
What an accomplished and smart player he is! A must for
guitarists, and a pleasant surprise for the rest of us.
—Philip McNally, Cadence
Technically Hofbauer can obviously play the standard jazz
guitar game, but it’s clear he doesn’t want to be hemmed in
the clichés of its tradition.
—Robert Iannapollo, Signal To Noise
A refreshingly original voice, Hofbauer reveals an affable
mischievous sensibility in his writing and improvising.
the superlative interpretive abilities of his sidemen, Eric
Hofbauer and The Infrared Band make Myth
Understanding a sterling debut.
—Troy Collins, AllAboutJazz.com
...his edgy, outsider aesthetic informs this intriguingly
music...Hofbauer stakes out fresh territory on tunes like
Mac Talkin’”, “A Drunk Monk” and “The Chump Killer”.
—Bill Milkowski, JazzTimes
...a lithe, smart quartet...Myth Understanding’s
speaks, flows and evolves...It’s great stuff, and Hofbauer’s
definitely found the right voices for his brand of avant-
—Nathan Turk, Signal To Noise
This record is rewarding on every level.
—Michael Coyle, Cadence