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Eric Hofbauer and the Infared Band

Myth Understanding | Creative Nation Music
By JON GARELICK  |  July 1, 2008
3.0 3.0 Stars
Eric HofbauerINSIDE.jpg
The liner notes give you all the inside dope on guitarist Hofbauer’s compositional strategies — myths, puzzles, martial arts, puns, programmatic narratives. But what’s likely to hit you first is his flair for bluesy, riffing AABA melodies. Yes, he likes to warp expectations with all that gamesmanship, but at his best, he sets up a satisfying songlike tension-and-release from stop-time and odd-meter sections into 4/4 swing. Maybe best of all is “A Drunk Monk,” which appears to have as much to do with Shaolin warriors as with Thelonious. Again, though, what will grab you is the tension of bassist Mike Montgomery’s lagging, syncopated two-bar ostinato against the quick 6/8 pulse and misterioso theme. Montgomery’s solo here is downright eloquent — spare and lyrical — and saxophonist Kelly Roberge builds smooth, concise phrases up to climactic ululations. Elsewhere, Hofbauer likes to break the band down into duo and trio passages. (Miki Matsuki is the capable drummer.) At times you might wish he trusted those grooves and melodies a bit more, but there’s always something to savor in these four-way conversations. And yes, “The Chump Killer” is inspired by Kung Fu Hustle.
  Topics: CD Reviews , Mike Montgomery , Sports , Martial Arts
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