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Eric Hofbauer & The Infrared Band

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Primary Instrument: Band/orchestra

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), Boston-based guitarist/composer Eric Hofbauer's newest ensemble, The Infrared Band, explores his intermingling interests in wordplay, mythology and puzzles. The quartet released its debut CD, Myth Understanding (CNM 011) on June 17th, 2008.

“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.” ...
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I’ve always had a weakness for records that combine conceptual hi-jinks with sensusous sounds -- records that hit both head and body -- records that are complete musical experiences. On Myth Understanding Eric Hofbauer and his Infrared Band offer just that. This record is rewarding on every level.
--Michael Coyle, Cadence

...a lithe, smart quartet...It’s great stuff, and Hofbauer’s definitely found the right voices for his brand of avant-postbop.
--Nathan Turk, Signal to Noise

Boston-based guitarist Eric Hofbauer is no hellacious chopsmeister, but his edgy, outsider aesthetic informs this intriguingly original music. Utilizing spiky lines, odd harmonies and dissonant chord clusters (Joe Morris meets “Blood” Ulmer) while also making striking use of space and putting a premium on swing and blues, Hofbauer stakes out fresh territory on tunes like “Jac Mac Talkin’”, “A Drunk Monk” and “The Chump Killer”. Secret weapon Kelly Roberge enlivens these tracks with rare abandon and blowtorch intensity on tenor sax.
--Bill Milkowski, JazzTimes

...Hofbauer brings a wealth of historical antecedents to his playfully inventive compositions. 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

The liner notes give you all the inside dope on guitarist Hofbauer’s compositional strategies -- myths, puzzles, martial arts, puns, programmatic narratives. But what’s likely to hit you first is his flair for bluesy, riffing AABA melodies. Yes, he likes to warp expectations with all that gamesmanship, but at his best, he sets up a satisfying songlike tension-and-release from stop- time and odd-meter sections into 4/4 swing.
--Jon Garelick, Boston Phoenix

The music here is shot through with quirks so skillfully played that they seem integral to the success of its realization. Although the precedents for tenor sax-guitar-bass-drums quartets are many, they still manage to make something fresh out of it, and in a manner so easy that it might leave listeners wondering why so few musicians seem to manage it. It all adds up to something special, not least because this is a group which seems to realize that the tradition is no end in itself but rather something that retains its validity only through periodic but ranging renewal.
--Nic Jones, AllAboutJazz.com

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