Prehistoric Jazz Volume 4 (Reminiscing in Tempo)

Eric Hofbauer Quintet

FROM THE LINER NOTES - It’s gratifying to see current bandleaders address the hybridity inherent in jazz by dealing with the music of Shostakovich, Webern, Ligeti and Machaut, among others. For Boston-based guitarist Eric Hofbauer, who in recent years has confronted monumental works by Stravinsky, Messiaen and Charles Ives on Prehistoric Jazz, Vols. 1-3, 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 these composers. The orchestrations were rigorous yet everywhere was 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 Joplin, Ellington and all that came after.

“Prehistoric jazz” is a term Leonard Bernstein once used in reference to Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du printemps. Hofbauer took the concept and ran with it in his account of that piece as well as Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time and Ives’ Three Places in New England. Ives’ Americanness was salient: his appropriation of plantation songs, military marches and other vernacular sources was itself jazz-like. And Three Places, inspired as it was by Revolutionary and Civil War monuments as well as natural scenes in and around Ives’ native Connecticut, amounted to a meditation on America’s past and future — something about which jazz has quite a lot to say.

These themes emerge again on Prehistoric Jazz, Vol. 4, devoted to Duke Ellington’s 1935 masterpiece Reminiscing in Tempo. Duke wrote this piece soon after the death of his mother, with whom he was very close — a detail that led Hofbauer to hear this music as a reflection on “memory as a catalyst for change.”

The moving extended work had to fill two 78-rpm records, front and back, so it’s generally spoken of as a four-part extended composition. In Hofbauer’s reading, it unfolds as a continuous piece without timestamps for the different sections, prompting us to hear the music differently. According to Hofbauer, Prehistoric Jazz, Vol. 4 “is the closest I’ve come to employing the technical demands of my solo-guitar conception as heard on the American trilogy or Ghost Frets, but in the quintet setting.”

Duke’s original was just under 13 minutes; this version is just under 25. The piece was originally conceived with no improvisation. But Hofbauer’s reading does entail some “blowing”: “I’m using the improvisations as a compositional tool. It happens in sections where I’m choosing to stay in a harmonic and/or rhythmic space that is important to explore further.” Spread out through the entire piece we first hear a cello solo, then trumpet, then an extended solo-guitar passage, then drums, then clarinet and finally collective improvisation. “Each solo is a departure,” Hofbauer adds, “but still serves the overall flow, and narrative of the original, just expanding it to make room for personal statements by each quintet member and to focus on our group interplay.”
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Prehistoric Jazz Volume 3 (Three Places in New England)

Eric Hofbauer Quintet

FROM THE LINER NOTES - It’s gratifying to see young jazz bandleaders of our day reinvent the music of Shostakovich, Webern, Ligeti, Machaut and others. For Boston-based guitarist Eric Hofbauer, who in 2014 confronted monumental works by Stravinsky and Messiaen on Prehistoric Jazz, Vols. 1 & 2, 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 these composers and not others. The orchestrations were rigorous yet everywhere was 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 Joplin, James P. Johnson and all that came after.

That holds true once again for Prehistoric Jazz, Vol. 3, devoted to Charles Ives’ Three Places in New England, a masterpiece of bracing modernism that the Connecticut sage completed in 1914 and revised in 1929. Ives’ sound world — deeply mysterious, irreverent, dissonant in the extreme — is kindred in spirit to the “prehistoric jazz” that Leonard Bernstein once spoke about in Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du printemps, and that Hofbauer extrapolated on Prehistoric Jazz, Vol. 2 to include Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time. Moreover, Ives’ appropriation of plantation songs, military marches and other vernacular sources is itself jazz-like. And Three Places, inspired as it is by Revolutionary and Civil War monuments as well as natural scenes in and around Ives’ native Connecticut, amounts to a meditation on America’s past and future — something about which jazz has quite a lot to say.

Naturally, Three Places is a three-movement work; the first movement is just under nine minutes, the second six minutes and the last roughly four. In this chamber-jazz quintet treatment by Hofbauer, the first two movements grow to an improvisation-heavy 17 minutes, the third to just under six. “I created in each piece a series of guidelines and goals,” Hofbauer explains, “instructions to help keep the improvisations on track and connected to the stories and emotional places of each movement.” As models, Hofbauer cites the streamlined compositional approach of Kind of Blue but also various concepts from the Art Ensemble of Chicago and Henry Threadgill.

Perhaps to an even greater extent than the Stravinsky and Messiaen albums, Hofbauer’s Three Places benefits from a robust, pure acoustic studio sound and crystal-clear separation of voices. “This piece is about folk music and melodies,” says Hofbauer, “and there needs to be an intimacy at the center of each movement. The acoustic guitar captures that closeness, addressing the American-ness and nostalgia, while also providing a more pointed and percussive attack when needed to highlight the nuanced timbral language of specifically African-American music vocabularies.”
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Prehistoric Jazz Volume 2 (Quatuor pour la fin du temps)

Eric Hofbauer Quintet

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.”
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Prehistoric Jazz Volume 1 (The Rite of Spring)

Eric Hofbauer Quintet

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.
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The Last Taxi

Pat Battstone piano
Richard Poole drumset, vibraphone
Todd Brunel bass clarinet
Chris Rathburn, double bass

This current work is a collection of musical conversations. Our initial works, “Through an Open Door” and “Mystic Nights”, established a language, a musical dialog, between Richard Poole on vibes and myself on piano. In this effort, we have kept our “chamber jazz” voice and expanded it to include Chris Rathbun on bass and Todd Brunel on bass clarinet. Richard now plays drums in addition to vibes.  Like most conversations, not everyone speaks at once and not everyone is a part of every conversation.
-Pat Battstone 2014
Circadian Rhythm Kings: Three Thirty Four

Featuring:

Andrew Hickman tenor sax, percussion
Mike Carey alto sax, flute
Todd Brunel clarinets, ethnic flute
John Funkhouser double bass, piano
Gary Fieldman drums


"Full body warm-up music, firing on all cylinders, fake or shake it, it doesn't matter, the energy is intelligent progressive, the avant is on guard and the vibe is smiling. None too heavy this 'Free Jazz' variant, courtesy of Todd Brunel's funk loving band of acers. "
Fiona Shrimpton, All About Jazz

"Circadian Rhythm Kings are shaping some of the most exciting, exhilarating, and daunting jazz I’ve ever heard." Will Barry the Noise

Click HERE for our CDBaby Page
 

Now available at Nada Brohma records and Cd Baby:

The Sonic Explorers: American Gypsy

Featuring:

Jerry Sabatini- Trumpet and Flugelhorn, compositions and arrangements
Chris Veilleux- Alto and Soprano sax
Jon Lorentz- Tenor Sax
Todd Brunel- Clarinet and Clarinet
Phil Sargent- Guitar
John Funkhouser- Piano and Keyboard
Greg Loughman- Double Bass
Mike Connors- Drums


Available at CD Baby, click HERE


 

Musaner: Once Upon A Time

MusAner: Once Upon A Time

This is musAner's second release, where the 10-person ensemble continues blending jazz orchestration and traditional folk music from Armenia. For information about Musaner or our new release, go to: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/musaner2

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Flametet / A General History of Flame

Kit Demos and Flametet

Recorded in 2013 in Boston MA. by Jason Bitner. Mastered by Kevin Frenette. Liner notes, Steve Dalachinsky. Artwork and layout Holger Drees.
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