Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Eric Hofbauer Quintet, Prehistoric Jazz, Volume 2, Quintet for the End of Time

We are back today for volume two of Eric Hofbauer and his Quintet and their "Prehistoric Jazz." Volume 1 (Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring") I covered here a few days ago. In the second volume Eric arranges the beautiful Messiaen WWII opus "Quartet for the End of Time," setting it in jazz terms for the quintet and so titling it Quintet for the End of Time (Creative Nation Music CNM 026).

As before the music gets fully treated by Eric's talented group: Eric on guitar, Jerry Sabatini on trumpet, Todd Brunel on clarinet and bass clarinet, Junko Fujiwara on cello, and Curt Newton on drums.

As with volume one Eric does not give you an end-to-end transcription of the original work, but instead selects key motives and sections, giving the themes to various instrumental combinations and slanting the phrases at times for a more jazzed reading. And then as before there is a good amount of room for improvisation, which comes off excellently with both avant and early jazz elements.

The Messiaen really lends itself to this treatment, maybe even more so than the Stravinsky, and Eric makes much out of the music so that it convinces fully as jazz for today. There are certain passages of the work that sound so boppish you'd think Messiaen meant them that way. But kudos to Hofbauer for hearing the potential and realizing it so well. Eric, Jerry and Todd get some really interesting solos going too, at times simultaneously.

It is no easy feat to pull this off, but Hofbauer and company do so with style, swinging heat and smarts. This one brings it on home! Many stars, if I rated things that way. Highly recommended!

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