The study of jazz music is a study of language, of history and culture, and perhaps most importantly, discovery of the self. Individuality and personal style are the building blocks of jazz. I focus on communicating with your instrument and understanding these traditional “vocabularies of jazz”—while developing your own style and voice to push the art form forward.
Keeping students inspired and passionate is at the heart of my adaptive teaching philosophy. I always encourage questions and dialogue. I also pose questions to my students at length to help me develop a deep understanding of their abilities and influences to create an individualized path of study.
I focus my instruction around the three major vocabularies of the jazz language: swing, bebop and free. These were the building blocks of most 20th century jazz styles and are key to synthesizing personal style in today’s post-modern world. Fluency in these vocabularies can be built through transcription, analysis, and repertoire study—alongside technique, scales, ear training, and reading.
Regardless of the method, the important outcome is that students discover and interpret these elements of jazz in their own way. Longy offers a unique environment where open-minded—and open-eared—musicians can continually develop as cross-style/post-genre improvisers and composers.
“Eric Hofbauer has become a significant force in Boston’s improvised-music scene,” declares Stereophile’s David R. Adler. “His aesthetic evokes old blues, Americana, Tin Pan Alley, bebop, and further frontiers. There’s a rule-breaking spirit but also an impeccable rigor, a foundation of sheer chops and knowledge, that put Hofbauer in the top tier of guitarists,” he writes.
Hofbauer has been an integral member of Boston’s jazz scene as a musician, bandleader, organizer and educator for the past twenty years. He has performed and recorded alongside such notable collaborators as Han Bennink, Roy Campbell, Jr., John Tchicai, Garrison Fewell, Cecil McBee, George Garzone, Sean Jones, John Fedchock, Steve Swell and Matt Wilson.
Hofbauer, recognized in the 2017 DownBeat Critics’ Poll for Rising Star, is perhaps best known for his solo guitar work featured in a trilogy of solo guitar recordings (American Vanity, American Fear and American Grace). Of the trilogy, Andrew Gilbert of The Boston Globe writes, “No other guitarist in jazz has developed a solo approach as rigorous, evocative, and thoughtful as Hofbauer.” His most recent solo release Ghost Frets, was described by Chris Haines of The Free Jazz Collective “as a real testament to Hofbauer’s musical style and vision…The playing is virtuosic throughout providing a real masterclass in creative solo performance.”
Hofbauer has earned critical acclaim for his work in a variety of musical projects, including his primary ensemble, the Eric Hofbauer Quintet. The EHQ performs his arrangements of groundbreaking 20th century pieces which he describes as “prehistoric jazz.” These arrangements celebrate the common ground between modern jazz and the works of Stravinsky, Messiaen, Ellington, and Ives by using the shared rhythmic and harmonic concepts of the 20th century modernists as a bridge to postmodern jazz improvisation. In November of 2014 the EHQ recordings Prehistoric Jazz Volume 1 (The Rite of Spring) and Volume 2 (Quartet for The End of Time) were featured on NPR’s Fresh Air by noted jazz writer Kevin Whitehead. The 2016 release Prehistoric Jazz Volume 3 (Three Places in New England) was on the Boston Globe’s Top 10 Jazz Album list as well as receiving critical acclaim from Downbeat, The Wire, Tone Audio and other press.
Hofbauer received a Master’s degree from New England Conservatory and a Bachelor’s degree from Oberlin Conservatory. He directs the big band and combos at Clark University, where he also teaches jazz theory and history. Hofbauer lectures on jazz history at Emerson College, and has for the past 19 years. He has also been visiting professor at Wellesley College and the University of Rhode Island. In 2009, he was honored with the Massachusetts Cultural Council Artist Fellowship in Music Composition.