It's hard to decidebased on American Vanity if Eric Hofbauer is a brilliant young artist or a wild-eyed nut-case. He plays solo acoustic guitar, ranting about American culture, American hubris, and American vanity through his guitar strings; though you wouldn't know this without liner notes. You might just take the set for some sharply-focused and fairly intense free sounds on his originals, along with some adventurous covers of American jazz classics by Charlie Parker and Charles Mingus.
His improvisations include "$..." (parts 1 & 2), "Coke" and "New Coke (parts 1 & 2)"prickly tunes that jab and poke at your earsand "Display Window Strut." The covers include the Yardbirds' "Driftin on a Reed" and Mingus' "Better Git It In Your Soul," a tune I didn't think could be done justice on solo guitar, but Hofbauer proves me wrongthis is a muscular and audacious display of technical virtuosity. He also covers Waylon Jennings' "Dukes of Hazzard," as well as Eric Satie's "Gnossienne #1," and Eric Dolphy's "Mandrake," establishing an "Eric" theme within the "gripe-about-American-culture" theme, I suppose. And why not; it's Hofbauer's show.
I used the word "rant" in describing this sound, and that's the feeling the disc leaves me with. It's sort of like answering the doorbell at midnight and letting a wayward nephew, guitar in tow, into your house. He stalks over to the sofa and sits down and goes into his take on the world, in musical fashion, and you don't know quite what to make of it all, riveting as it might be.
Brilliant young artist or wild-eyed nut-case? Damned if I know; probably some combination of the two. But he's got my attention.
Track Listing: The Fad, Coke (for our addicts), Gnossienne #1, Mandrake, American Eulogy, Better Git it in Your Soul, BA-DEE Image, Greensleeves in Vermont, Ode to Little Drummer Boy, $...(part1), Old Man River (for our lost ones), New Coke (part 1), Driftin' on a Reed (for our dreamers), American Innocence, $...(part 2)Dukes of Hazzard, Take On Me, Femme Fatale, New Coke (part 2), Display window Strut
I was first exposed to jazz in 1961 (at age 10) when I was in a shopping arcade in Southport, England with my parents. I fell in love with the music playing over the PA system; Take Five by the Dave Brubeck Quartet
I was first exposed to jazz in 1961 (at age 10) when I was in a shopping arcade in Southport, England with my parents. I fell in love with the music playing over the PA system; Take Five by the Dave Brubeck Quartet. After going through Rock 'n Roll, the Beatles and Heavy Metal/Hard Rock phases over the next eight or so years, I finally bought my first jazz album; We're All Together Again for the First Time by Dave Brubeck, Paul Desmond and Gerry Mulligan. I was hooked on jazz, and still am 40+ years later.
I moved from England to the USA in 2002, and founded the Brookfield Jazz Society in 2005.
I became editor of the quarterly IAJRC Journalin 2012. The magazine goes to the worldwide membership of the IAJRC (International Association of Jazz Record Collectors) and many major libraries and educational establishments around the world.
As well as being the editor of the IAJRC Journal, I write about jazz and review CDs, vinyl, DVDs and books on jazz.
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