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American Vanity

Eric Hofbauer

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Album Review

The political statements that guitarist, composer, and improviser Eric Hofbauer uses as liner notes to his solo guitar album are about as thoughtful, nuanced, and interesting as a brick lying on the sidewalk. "This recording is dedicated to the American 'Big Brother' government," he sniffs, "the 'man' and his false idol, and the mysterious cultural machine in charge of what is cool." Whoa, dude. The music itself, luckily, is much more interesting and tends to actually encourage thinking rather than bludgeon the listener with approved ideas. The program is an elegantly varied collection of original improvisations and compositions along with arrangements of other composers' work. The arrangements include everything from a barnburning setting of Charles Mingus' "Better Get Hit in Your Soul" to an equally exciting rendition of Eric Dolphy's "Mandrake," which includes some sly Thelonious Monk references and comes directly after a respectful arrangement of Erik Satie's Gnossienne No. 1. "Ode to Little Drummer Joy" is a severe but clever deconstruction of the "Ode to Joy" melody, while Hofbauer's "American Eulogy" and "Coke" show, respectively, his talent as a lyrical composer and his technical prowess as an improviser. Much more fun than the song titles or liner notes would lead one to expect, American Vanity is a very impressive effort from a major young talent.

Biography

Born: 31 January 1974 in Rochester, NY

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

Eric Hofbauer, born in Rochester, NY on January 31, 1974, is a Boston based creative improvising and progressive jazz guitarist. He has performed in acoustic solo settings, collaborated with local musicians, and has played his share of bop and modern jazz, roots Americana and even country music. Hofbauer graduated from Oberlin College with a Bachelors Degree in Music, and a Masters from the New England Conservatory, where he was influenced by professors Paul Bley and Ran Blake. Now himself a prominent...
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