Prehistoric Jazz — Volume 2, Boston-based guitarist/composer Eric Hofbauer’s second recording of his ensemble, the Eric Hofbauer Quintet, features the leader’s arrangement of Olivier Messiaen’s Quatuor pour la fin du temps. In confronting the iconic 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 the America of 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 Messiaen’s Quatuor pour la fin du temps (Quartet for the End of Time) as a daunting 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.
Eric Hofbauer approaches Fin du Temps entirely on his own terms, as he does with Stravinsky’s Rite on Prehistoric Jazz, Vol. 1. These sister CDs feature the same exceptional chamber-jazz lineup, but while there’s much that unifies the two, the contrast between the sonic worlds of Stravinsky and Messiaen can be dramatic. “Both explore timbre and dynamics,” Hofbauer says, “But where the Rite often quickly and dramatically changes, Fin du Temps simmers on extreme quiet for extended periods, or digs into a timbral palette during solo features.” There’s also substantial difference in how Messiaen uses motivic ideas. Hofbauer explains, “Stravinsky is a motivic deconstructionist, but Messiaen is a motivic developer. Messiaen uses small ideas, often an interval set to a specific rhythm, throughout. These phrases, which are riff-like from a jazz perspective, become launching points for improvised collective dialogues, solo features, vamps, and ostinatos. They even provide rhythmic foundations, acting as indicators for the pulse, thus helping establish various grooves including odd meters, marches, and swing.”
released October 28, 2014
Eric Hofbauer – Guitar
Jerry Sabatini – Trumpet
Todd Brunel – Bb Clarinet & Bass Clarinet
Junko Fujiwara – Cello
Curt Newton – Drums & Percussion
Eric Hofbauer and Eric Hofbauer QuintetBoston, 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