Thursday, December 4, 2014

Eric Hofbauer Quintet, Prehistoric Jazz Volume 1, The Rite of Spring

Guitarist Eric Hofbauer does things his own way, in ways other people generally don't. I've covered his music on these pages before (type his name in the search box for those). But he steps further beyond the expected these days with a two-volume offering that takes some contemporary 20th century milestone classical compositions and arranges them for a jazz-centered quintet.

The initial volume: Prehistoric Jazz, Volume 1: The Rite of Spring (Creative Nation Music CNM 025) arranges Stravinsky's iconic orchestral work of the same name. We discussed the Bad Plus version of the work a while back (type in search box for the article), but this one is different. Where the Bad Plus took the score and arranged it in A-to-B fashion for a piano trio, Hofbauer zeroes in on critical segments of the score and reworks them for sextet, inserting adaptations and jazz elements and at the same time allowing for a good deal of improvisation in a through-composed way.

The band has their hands full realizing the motifs and getting loose and free improvisationally, or even at times sounding like an early jazz band and/or Duke's Jungle period outfit, too. Much credit goes to the arrangements/arranger, and to the sextet itself also for their creative transformations. Eric is on guitar, Jerry Sabatini on trumpet, Todd Brunel on Bb clarinet and bass clarinet, Junko Fujiwara on cello, and Curt Newton on drums.

This is a jazzification of the Rite all the way, yet there is the essence of Stravinsky's work there as well. It's very successful, very creative and enjoyable to hear. If you don't know the original you should deal with that, too, it goes without saying.

But Eric Hofbauer is up to very much good here. Check it out and you'll get it!

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