Primary Instrument: Band/ensemble/orchestra
Boston-based guitarists Garrison Fewell and Eric Hofbauer perform an eclectic series of duets inspired by the deeper roots of jazz in the music of West Africa, Persia and the Arabic-Islamic world. The music of this intergenerational duo, which met for nearly a year and a half to discuss the music before playing a single note together, juxtaposes ancient traditions with the language and techniques of contemporary improvisation.
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 to the duo's debut, The Lady of Khartoum (CNM 010). 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.
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. Their music, most of which is improvised, references 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 original compositions to the mix, as well reinterpretations of music by Thelonious Monk and John Tchicai.
--The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings, Ninth Edition
This freewheeling pan-cultural duo helps show that jazz’s family tree has
some pretty deep roots.
--Nathan Turk, Signal to Noise
Tracks like “Dogon Delta Blues” and “Devil at the Salang Pass” are
adventurous and quirky, exploring the boundaries of the guitar’s sonic
possibilities. “Farsighted Friendship”, a John Tchicai composition (Fewell is a
long-time collaborator), is a fitting closing tune, beautiful and
--Karen Hogg, AllAboutJazz-New York
Fewell and Hofbauer are both players acutely aware of the sonic potential
their instrument has to offer, and that awareness is one of the many qualities
that combine to lift the music on The Lady Of Khartoum well above
the run-of-the-mill...the duo's economy lends to the proceedings the kind
of dignity that seems like an increasingly rare quality. It all adds up to
something special in the sense that the very restricted tonal palette that two
guitars can offer is effectively trumped by the wealth of ideas and the sharp
musical reflexes of the two players concerned.
--Nic Jones, AllAboutJazz.com
...this duet session from Boston-area guitarists Garrison Fewell and Eric
Hofbauer both dazzles and beguiles...A diaspora of titles alludes to the wide
ranging influences brought to bear through this delightful but
uncompromising set...[a] richly rewarding disc, resonant of other cultures and
other times, yet firmly of its own.
--John Sharpe, AllAboutJazz.com
Like conversations between two distant friends, the dialogs of these skilled
improvisers speak of familiar and unfamiliar territories that are at many times
intriguing and trans-cultural. The opening dissonant plucks heard on the
“Prologue: Before the Dream,” the gut-bucket blues in “Dogon Delta Blues,”
or the rural patchwork of the title selection, all suggest locales that are at
once foreign and native. The recording ends with its longest and most
emotive number, “Farsighted Friendship,” a fitting conclusion to a memorable
work of creativity.
--Mark F. Turner, AllAboutJazz.com
This seemingly unmatched pair join beautifully in a program of progressive
ethnic-influenced music that taps from bop and fusion, Middle Eastern folk
forms, and much freedom. What sets them apart, especially evident on the
title track, is the resonant use of sticks on strings, combining Arabic
inferences with a Western sensibility. Where guitar fans should find this
intriguing to the nth degree, the general public interested in improvised
music should also find that Fewell and Hofbauer make compelling music
worth more that a few listens.
--Michael G. Nastos, All Music Guide
Their deconstructions are deft and inventive, as is their postmodern
reconstruction of “Bye Bye Blackbird” as “A Cajun Raven”. The gorgeous drift
of “Farsighted Friendship”, which occupies the same territory as one of Loren
Connors’s airs, brings things nicely to a close.
--Brian Marley, The Wire
The Lady of Khartoum is a beauty that emerged as Hofbauer and
Fewell discussed their disparate interests -- Fewell’s world travels,
Hofbauer’s teaching gigs, and “different musical techniques that bridge the
cultural divide”...the freely improvised tracks are impressive for their
consistent mood. Ten percent of sales from this lucid, affecting CD goes to
--Jon Garelick, Boston Phoenix
The Lady of Khartoum, a series of duets between the Boston
guitarists Garrison Fewell and Eric Hofbauer, is a lesson in advanced
harmonics as well as a tour of global improvised music. You hear Louisiana,
Africa, and the Middle East in these songs crafted from two guitars and a
boxful of percussive toys. It’s ecelctic, that’s for sure.
--Steve Greenlee, JazzTimes
Two criminally undersung guitarists meet for a gentle but probing series of
duets on The Lady of Khartoum...a love song to the guitar, in all its
idiomatic strangeness, by two fine practicioners. And it’s a vibrant,
imaginative, and -- wait for it -- fun record.
--Jason Bivins, Cadence