Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Eric Hofbauer American Grace CNM022 2012

What ever happened to lyrical guitarists? Jim Hall, Wes Montgomery and Kenny Burrell and leap to the front of the pack when the subject comes up. Let's toss in one more. Eric Hofbauer and his third solo recording American Grace. A perfect compliment to American Vanity and American Fear, this somewhat conceptualized personal trilogy covers a myriad of tunes  from 80's pop, jazz standards, bebop, free jazz and even country and blues. In short, Hofbauer may be the finest guitarist you have never heard of.

Hofbauer does his own unique riff on the varied aspects of of American society and pop culture and does so without the pretentiousness so many other players seem enamored with. In describing the release, Hofbauer's gives his own review in that this somewhat autobiographical sonic soliloquy ends with grace as the final step in a lifelong journey. There is a minimalistic quality to this recording with tunes such as "And So It Goes" along with "Stella by Starlight" having been deconstructed  with a keen sense of melodic purpose. Original compositions such as "Kid Justice" fit nicely next to the Lennon/McCartney classic "Dear Prudence." Other memorable moments include the touching "Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out To Dry" from Sammy Cahn sits quietly next to other gems that are almost spiritual in interpretation yet with a strong lyrical foundation. giving American Grace an ambiance that is a rare commodity in the world of modern jazz guitar. The kicker being Hofbauer transcends jazz and most any generic label most critics would insist he be placed under. Eric Hofbauer is an artist.

Tracks: American Incantation: And So It Goes; Beat The Drum; Cheer Up, Charlie; Dear Prudence; Ghost In The Machine; God Moves On The Water; Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out To Dry; Idumea; In Memorium; Kid Justice; Mileage; New American Psalm; Peace; Pocket Chops; Stella By Starlight; Today, All Day; True Colors; West End Blues.