Charlie Hunter fooled us with his debut disc in 1993: the album was billed to the Charlie Hunter Trio, but its songs had four distinctly discernible instrumental lines--guitar, sax, bass, and drums. How to explain three musicians playing four parts? Hunter is just a bona fide freak of nature. Using the lower three strings of his eight-string guitar, he plays completely independent bass lines behind his improvised solos; live, he sends each part to separate amps, and if you close your eyes you can't believe only one musician is playing. But if Hunter had only that going for him, he'd have exhausted the trick years ago. Instead he's crafted an instantly recognizable style built on magnificently funky rhythms and voluptuous guitar playing, which draw on the humidity of John Scofield's sound as well as the reedy chords of the electric organ. In the past decade he's worked in a grand variety of settings, including his quartet Pound for Pound, which featured vibes and percussion; his 2003 quintet, whose sax-trombone-harmonica front line marinated in modern New Orleans rhythms; Groundtruther, an experimental duo with drummer Bobby Previte, whose just-released second disc, Longitude (Thirsty Ear), features turntablist DJ Logic; and the jam band Garage a Trois, whose new disc comes out next week. For this gig Hunter returns to the trio format, playing with saxist John Ellis and drummer Derrek Phillips. See also Saturday. Fri 7/22, 9 PM, Green Mill, 4802 N. Broadway, 773-878-5552, $12.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Michael Jackson.