Charlie Hunter, Now With Less Jamming | Bleader

Charlie Hunter, Now With Less Jamming


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Charlie Hunter
  • Charlie Hunter
Charlie Hunter, the singular seven-string guitarist—meaning that I know of no one else who plays an instrument configured like his, and that no guitarist, period, sounds quite like him—returns to Chicago with a trio gig Wednesday at the Beat Kitchen. He's touring with drummer Eric Kalb (Dap-Kings) and trombonist Curtis Fowlkes (Jazz Passengers), both of whom appear on his excellent new album, Gentlemen, I Neglected to Inform You You Will Not Be Getting Paid (Spire Artist Media). Between the new album and his contributions to clarinetist Ben Goldberg's recent Go Home, Hunter has lately been creating some his most personable and concentrated music ever.

The recording also includes trumpeter Eric Biondo and second trombonist Alan Ferber, and though Hunter has cited the sound of Lester Bowie's Brass Fantasy as an influence on the new record, what strikes me is the concision of the performances, their melodic warmth, and their deep 60s-soul feel. Hunter got his start as a prime mover of the ill-named acid-jazz scene in the Bay Area during the early 90s, so funk has always been a big part of his musical DNA (you can certainly hear it on the new record), but what impresses me is that it's no longer the focal point. Propulsive rhythm is a given on his recordings, but this time around tunefulness takes center stage, and the brass section provides a rich counterpart to his guitar lines (and to the anchoring bass lines he plays with that seventh string). The album was cut live with no overdubs, and its eight pieces are focused and concise, steering well clear of the rambling jam-band aesthetic that has made some of Hunter's records a bit of a chore. To my ears Gentlemen is his best yet.

Below you can listen to the fine opening track, "You Look Good in Orange":

Today's playlist:

Paul Bley Trio, Closer (ESP-Disk)
Romica Puceanu, Chansons Tziganes (Buda)
Peter Walker, Long Lost Tapes 1970 (Tompkins Square)
Márta Sebestyén, I Can See the Gates of Heaven (World Village)
Tyshawn Sorey, Koan (482 Music)

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