Prehistoric Jazz Volume 1 (The Rite of Spring)

by Eric Hofbauer Quintet

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    Letterpress printed and hand crafted packaging by Dan Wood Printing. Liner notes by historian and jazz writer David Adler. Design by Benjamin Shaykin.

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Prehistoric Jazz — Volume 1, Boston-based guitarist/composer Eric Hofbauer’s debut recording of his new ensemble, the Eric Hofbauer Quintet, features the leader’s arrangement of Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring. In confronting the monumental work the goal was not a melding of genres or a salute to “serious” music in general, but rather a puzzling over matters of timbre and instrumentation, improvisational pathways and harmonic implications specific to the composer. The orchestration is rigorous, yet everywhere is the spark of the unexpected. Hofbauer’s take on the encounter of European modernism with American blues and jazz follows in the best tradition of Scott Joplin and all that came after who explored the fluid boundary between classical music and jazz.

It’s hard not to think of Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du printemps (The Rite of Spring) as a big scary piece, loaded with historical significance. But its on a par with other unlikely works that Hofbauer has explored in a solo guitar context: “Hot for Teacher” by Van Halen, or “West End Blues” by Louis Armstrong and His Hot Five, or “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” by Tears for Fears. Hofbauer’s solo guitar trilogy — American Vanity (2002), American Fear (2010) and American Grace (2012) — was remarkable in the way it expanded the song canon, and with it the idiomatic reach of the instrument. The jump from this to deconstructing great orchestral and chamber music might have been bold, but it made perfect sense.

The album title was inspired by video footage of Leonard Bernstein rehearsing The Rite of Spring in 1987 where he instructs the timpanist to play like “prehistoric jazz.” In that one term from Bernstein, Hofbauer found all the affirmation he needed to venture his own small-group treatment of the Rite “For me,” Hofbauer explains, “connecting with that feeling of ‘the prehistoric jazz’ was my entrée into this masterwork of shifting syncopated rhythms and polytonality. My goal then became to synthesize the most memorable melodic and rhythmic elements from the original score with improvisation.” Hofbauer’s Rite is a different animal from the many previous jazz ensemble versions over the past several decades. It is intimate acoustic chamber jazz with an extraordinary purity of tone, acute attention to timbral nuances and textures, driving rhythmic interaction, and most importantly, full of improvisation ranging from meditative solo features to swinging blues choruses to deft contrapuntal collective sections which capture the spirit and raucous energy of the original recast as spontaneous interplay.


released October 28, 2014

Eric Hofbauer – Guitar
Jerry Sabatini – Trumpet
Todd Brunel – Bb Clarinet & Bass Clarinet
Junko Fujiwara – Cello
Curt Newton – Drums & Percussion

Recorded (04/14), Mixed & Mastered at The Rotary Records (
by Warren Amerman
Design by Benjamin Shaykin (,
Liner Notes by David Adler (
Photo by Lauren Poussard (
Produced by Eric Hofbauer (

℗ 2014 Creative Nation Music
© 2014 Creative Nation Music



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Eric Hofbauer and Eric Hofbauer Quintet Boston, Massachusetts

“No other guitarist in jazz has developed a solo approach as rigorous, evocative, and thoughtful as Hofbauer,” (A. Gilbert Boston Globe). Known as “a crucial instigator in Boston’s DIY avant-jazz scene” (J. Garelick, Boston Phoenix), Hofbauer has performed & recorded with such notable collaborators as Han Bennink, Roy Campbell, John Tchicai, Garrison Fewell, Cecil McBee, Steve Swell & Matt Wilson. ... more

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