31/May/2010 Filed in: Jazz
Here's a Charlie Hunter show at Seattle's Jazz Alley that I recorded on my minidisc way back in 2003. The sound isn't spectacular but the energy of the performance makes up for it in the first few minutes. The band is really swinging, getting down and dirty, bringing a joyful New Orleans sound to the intimate stage. I can't say for sure who is playing at this gig with Charlie, except for reliable saxophone sidekick John Ellis -- Seattle saxman Skerik joins the band for a long encore jam that is a highlight of the show.
I'm happy to be able to share this moment of music that I recorded and hope you enjoy listening to it. Charlie is always touring, so check his live game out!
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April 13, 2003 - A snappy new CD by the Charlie Hunter Quintet called Right Now Move on Ropeadope Records features harmonica, sax, trombone, drums, and some tasty staccato guitar chords underpinned by a funky bass line — but there's no bass player listed in the liner notes.
That's because Hunter does double duty, playing bass and guitar lines with his custom-made eight-string guitar. The 35-year-old player grew up in the San Francisco Bay area playing a more typical six-string guitar, taking lessons at age 14 from master guitarist Joe Satriani. But Hunter's interest in the complex jazz of players like Joe Pass and Tuck Andress led him to the conclusion that six strings just weren't enough.
His current band includes: harmonica player Gregoire Maret, who has played with Branford Marsalis and Jacky Terrasson; sax/bass clarinet player John Ellis, who's played with Jason Marsalis; trombone player Curtis Fowlkes, best known for his work with John Lurie's Lounge Lizards; and drummer Derek Philips, who has collaborated with jazz musicians Greg Osby and Joshua Redman.
A Down Beat magazine review of Right Now Move says it is "truly a band album, with Hunter often playing a sideman role." Hunter rarely solos on guitar — he says he likes to groove in tight-but-funky compositions that best play off the true ensemble nature of the group.
Hunter's mother fixed instruments at a guitar shop in Berkeley — a shop that was also the unofficial hangout of standout musicians from all over. He had a somewhat nomadic upbringing, traveling around with his mother in a school bus.
He was a proponent of the "hip hop" or "acid jazz" movement that hit the Bay Area in the mid-90s, mixing jazz with funk, hip-hop and rock. His first major gig came in 1991 with The Disposable Heroes of HipHopricy. But he really came into his own with the group T.J. Kirk, and followed up with several critically acclaimed solo CDs. Hunter credits musicians Jimmy Smith and Larry Young, both organ players, as huge influences on his style — Young in particular, because of the way Young would play bass lines with his left hand and chords and melodies with his right. In fact, many listeners often mistake Hunter's guitar for an organ because of the rich, vibrant sound and complex chords.
07/Dec/2009 Filed in: Jazz
20/Feb/2009 Filed in: Jazz
"Guitarist Charlie Hunter appeals to a lot of music fans on a lot of different levels. His amazing technique and improvisational skills have earned praise from straight-ahead jazz critics and fans. His willingness to experiment musically is looked upon with great favor by devotees of the avant-garde. And his ability to dig into a big, nasty groove and then run away with it has made him a favorite with jam-band audiences.
No matter what sort of music he plays, his amazing technique has been Hunter's calling card since he started recording in the mid-1990s. Armed with a seven-string guitar, he possesses the unique ability to sound like at least two guitarists at once, as he seems to play bass lines, melody lines, chords and improvisational passages at the same time.
However, as he tells KPLU's Nick Francis in this session, he feels that he's taken technique as far as he can. Hunter jokes that, at a certain point in the recent past, he felt that the only thing he could do to outdo himself on stage would be to set himself on fire. Since he was understandably hesitant to take such a drastic step, he began to re-think the music he was playing and the reasons he wanted to play music in the first place.
His conclusion, as you'll hear, was that he'd spent enough of his career in the service of technique — and that it was now time to serve the music. The solo guitar pieces he plays in this interview clearly demonstrate the fruits of Hunter's new path."
--88.5 KPLU FM
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26/Nov/2007 Filed in: Americana
Guitarist Bill Frisell and pedal steel player Greg Leisz playing selections from Frisell's vast repertoire and a few surprising covers in the intimate setting of Bellingham, Washington's Nightlight Lounge on Valentine's Day, 2007. Recorded by DJ Fundi on a minidisk, front row, stage left.
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