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Charlie Hunter: Living the Music

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Whatever our capacity is as musicians, we are serving the music as a whole on stage. If not, then you have to address it. Usually, if your heart is in the right place and youre playing honestly, you would be surprised what people get.
Eight-string guitarist Charlie Hunter has stunned audiences for years with his virtuosic ability to play simultaneous bass and guitar lines, sounding at times more like a Hammond organist than a guitarist. The Hammond sound's just one of Hunter's trademark tones, however, and his technical prowess shouldn't stand in the way of appreciating his considerable talents as a composer and bandleader. Whether playing in a quartet, quintet, trio, duo or solo format (he's done plenty of recording and gigging in all these configurations), Hunter's groove-based jazz/rock hybrid is immediately recognizable, and has produced some classic albums.

I spoke with Hunter in the very early days of the New Orleans catastrophe; his management and many musical associates are based there. Fortunately, all had gotten out of the city and were accounted for. We spoke about Hunter's collaborative band Garage à Trois and its excellent new CD, his experimental Groundtruther collaborations with Bobby Previte, the Charlie Hunter Trio, his take on the jamband scene, his thoughts on comping, his much-vaunted bass/guitar technique, and more.

All About Jazz: Let's start by talking about Garage à Trois, the group you're in with drummer Stanton Moore, vibes player Mike Dillon and saxophonist Skerik. I want to start with Garage since the band's soundtrack to the as yet unreleased film by Claus Tontine, Outre Mer, is your newest CD. Did the film inform this music? Were you tailoring the tunes to individual scenes?

Charlie Hunter: You know, I really don't have any idea because I never met the guy. It's all Skerik. Basically, Stanton and Mike and Skerik and I got together and Stanton and I worked out a lot of grooves in the studio. That was our idea, just to put these grooves together—get "A sections and "B sections and just kind of build the music that way. And as far as [Tontine] went, I don't really know—I've never met him, I don't really have any contact with him. I was just down in New Orleans for the week that we recorded it. I wish I could tell you something; I do so much stuff that I'm totally ignorant as to what the thing is even about! [laughing]

AAJ: Well, that really just means that you made a Garage à Trois record. I love the way this band plays together; it's not at all about accompanying solos. It's a quartet where every member is sort of a part of the rhythm section.

CH: Yeah, you hit the nail on the head. That's the exact concept behind the music: to take that kind of, I guess whatever you want to call it, jazz sensibility—but not have it be about solos. I mean, in the course of an evening, people will take a solo here and there, but generally it's all about the rhythm of that music. Dealing with the rhythm with everything. That's essentially at least my concept of what that group is.

AAJ: It's all interlocked parts. For example, the title cut to the album, "Outre Mer, is an incredibly polyrhythmic song. It's all stacked rhythms. I notice there are no individual credits on this CD. Are these all group compositions?

CH: Pretty much, yeah. Stanton and I would start with the germ of an idea: I would write some parts, Stanton would have a rhythm part—and then Mike would decide, "okay, this would be a good tune to put tabla on. Or conga, or vibes, or marimba. And then Skerik would add stuff over the top of that.

AAJ: So when I hear extra percussion parts, like on "The Machine —which is my favorite song on the album, just a polyrhythmic behemoth—when I hear any percussion besides Stanton's kit, that's all Mike?

CH: Yeah, that's all Mike. There was very little overdubbing on this record, actually. Other than some horn stuff Skerik did, and a few percussion overdubs Mike did—most of it is live.

AAJ: It's got a very good recorded sound.

CH: Well, that's Mike Napolitano. He's a great engineer.

AAJ: It feels strange to speak of your playing as if it's two instruments, but essentially, that's what you do, and your basslines and Stanton's drums go together very well. How did you two get together?

CH: We have the same manager, and years ago, we played a little bit when his band Galactic came through the Bay Area when I still lived there. And then he called me to do a record date eight or nine years ago. And we've been playing ever since.

AAJ: His playing on "The Dwarf is particularly astonishing; he does these amazing snare rolls—it's like Art Blakey on steroids.

CH: That's the New Orleans second line; that's his forté.

AAJ: Skerik's a pretty unique saxophonist and I especially like his smoky, short breaks on "Etienne. Tell me what you like about playing with him.

CH: For one thing, when you're playing live, he's the guy you want in front of the band. He's indefatiguable; he just goes to this place where he can kind of do no wrong as your frontman. You know what I mean? You just feel like you want to work really hard to make sure that he's safe to do whatever he wants. I'm almost more entertained by what he does than the audience is—and that's not even from a musical standpoint. From a musical standpoint, what's great about him is that most saxophone players—especially in my age group, people in our late thirties—are really interested in the whole tenor tradition and really, really immerse themselves in that. Which I think is great.

AAJ: That's the jazz thing.

CH: That's the jazz thing. And it can be a great thing and that is the identity of the tenor saxophone. Yet what I like about Skerik is that he's immersed himself in that, but to the same degree he's also immersed himself really deeply in punk rock and heavy metal. He spent a lot of time in London where he played with these zoukous guys from Zaire. So he's really into that music and into lots of production stuff, and all that stuff just comes across in what he does. His use of electronics, all the analog processing stuff he does with his horn—in that department, I think he's kind of the benchmark for everyone else that plays saxophone.

AAJ: It's funny that you speak of him as a frontman, because even though this is a music of collective parts, if anyone is playing a front melody, it is usually him.

CH: Right. But the thing about the saxophone is that it's like our version of the operatic tenor. The second you play one note on it, it's just this incredible clarion call: "wahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! It's very hard for a horn like that to be in the rhythm section. And he does a really great job of being in the rhythm section as a horn player.

AAJ: I like how at certain times on the record he becomes not just the horn player, but the horn section. There aren't many overdubs, but there are parts where he's a whole overdubbed section.

CH: Yeah, and the reason we did that was because after we had made the record, a few of those tunes that didn't have any of the sax stuff on them—we felt like, well, these are lines that are rhythmic lines. They're not really dealing with the melodic narrative, so to speak; they're not standing on their own in a way that if the saxophone was a guitar or a piano, they would. So we figured, let's section up that stuff—not to make it bigger sounding, but to make it sound like less of a non sequitur.

AAJ: "The Dream is a remarkable-sounding tune. I think it's just your guitar, vibes, and Skerik's sax. It's got this steamy, close ambience.

CH: Well, I've been working with [drummer] Bobby Previte a lot. He's turned me on to a lot of the minimalist composers. I was just joking around with the guys, because we were doing all of this heavy stuff, so I said, "well, let's just do a quick little Steve Reich piece or a Philip Glass kind of piece. So that was it, basically, lots of very simple parts intertwining to make one thing where, again, there's no melody dominating.

And essentially, that's the idea behind this whole record. It really is a rhythmically focused, minimalist piece where there's no melody that's predominating—the music that happens occurs with the mixture of all the rhythmic parts. And the way the music keeps your attention, if it does, is just in the small changes that are done in the course of what appears to be a completely repetitive groove. That's the overarching concept.

AAJ: Fortunately, I find that stuff totally absorbing, so the album really works for me. And I think Garage à Trois really sounds like itself—meaning I don't think there's another group out there now that sounds like it. But songs like "Needles and "Antoine really do make me think of one person, and that's James Brown. Skerik's got some Maceo Parker in his playing in "Antoine and Stanton's as powerful as Clyde Stubblefield, which is a huge compliment. But it's the overall locked grooves that make me think of James Brown and the way his songs were also sort of modularly composed of a couple of rhythmic parts. Anything to this comparison?

CH: Oh, definitely. I've studied that music pretty intensely. Really intensely, actually. But that kind of falls in line; when you think about it, James Brown was a funk minimalist. All of those parts create a sum that's larger than than the individual parts.

AAJ: And a lot of them were just written by James in his head on a bus between gigs and then they pulled over at some studio and just tracked them.

CH: Yeah, but a lot of it was also written by [trombonist] Fred Wesley. He wrote a lot of that stuff, and I had the good fortune to be on the road with him for a three-week tour that was educational—to say the least.

AAJ: Outre Mer sounds pretty different from the first Garage album, Emphasizer. That one sounds more psychedelic, less polyrhythmic. Do you think this new one differs much from the first?

CH: Oh, vastly. We didn't have any concept when we went in to do that record. We weren't even sure we really wanted to do a record. But we would play every year at [New Orleans] Jazz Fest with that group, once a year—and then it got kind of popular with what I guess people would call the jamband crowd.

AAJ: Where you've always had something of a following.

CH: A little bit. You know, I'm happy to have it because I think that with a lot of that music, they're valiantly trying to improvise and trying to be rhythmic—but they just don't have the background or the vocabulary yet to do it. Most of those kinds of jambands just aren't ready yet to approach that music. But they try! And I think it's really a serendipitous thing, because their fans are also not really evolved yet in their musical journey to really be able to get more than what those guys are doing. So it's kind of a cool thing.

But then the people who have evolved beyond that are thinking, "wait a minute, I really want to hear some music that is improvisational and has a rhythmic thing that goes beyond this —and that's where people like us who have been trained as musicians our whole lives come in. So I think that we got a huge audience from that, and we just had to put a record out. So we did that Emphasizer record, but for the next record, I was very adamant. I've been making records for a long time, and I always try to go in with some type of an overarching concept as to whatever the record is. Not so much that it kills the music, but enough so that there's a statement made.

AAJ: Well, a record kind of needs a meaning.

CH: Exactly. And especially those of us who are in our late thirties, early forties, who kind of grew up with records—where you would go to the record store and you would see something and go, "oh, what is this? Hmm, Back in Black. I remember buying a vinyl copy of Are You Experienced? and being, like, wow! And whatever the record was—the Beatles, Marvin Gaye—they all had a concept.

AAJ: And the record covers—back in the day, you couldn't hear anything in the record store. You had to buy it to find out how it sounded. And that was kind of cool. Especially when I brought home, say, Houses of the Holy and it sounded exotically cool, just like the record cover. They knew how to package that stuff.

CH: But the thing that's so beautiful is that I don't think they were thinking about packaging. They were just living it. All those guys back then. And it's the same thing with Charlie Parker, Dexter Gordon, Louis Armstong, Billie Holiday, Jimi Hendrix, Roy Acuff, Hank Williams—they were just living it. That's why it sounds so good and it resonates, because that was just the reality. They were just simply living it. Which is not to say they weren't intellectual giants, because they were, but they also were just in it and living in the time.

AAJ: There was nothing market-driven or contrived about what they were writing or playing.

CH: Because they defined the market. What they did, just by force of the power of what they were doing, defined the market. The market didn't define the music; the music defined the market.

AAJ: I wonder if we've gone way too far the other way.

CH: Oh, we're all the way the other direction.

AAJ: Musician as content provider.

CH: I don't know; "content is going a little far! There's so little there. I do dig the White Stripes. I like the record they have out now.

AAJ: They're great, yeah. Let's talk about your work with Bobby Previte, who's become a great collaborator of yours.

CH: Yeah! Teacher, really.

AAJ: I think you worked with him first on the Come In Red Dog, This Is Tango Leader CD. Now you and he have done two albums of a projected trilogy as Groundtruther, which is a duo with a rotating third member. Before we start discussing the actual records, tell me how you and Previte started working together.

CH: He just called me up. Skerik is a mutual friend of ours. So he called me and we just hung out, jammed a little bit. So we were like, "yeah, let's play some, and it has just evolved since then.

AAJ: Okay, the two of you did Come In Red Dog, This Is Tango Leader; that's the two of you in the studio. What made you both then decide to do this Groundtruther project with a rotating third member?

CH: That was kind of our modus operandi. We'd been playing lots of gigs at the Knitting Factory at the Old Office. And we'd have a third-person guest; we'd play four nights and each night we'd have a different guest. We've had [soprano saxophonist] Jane Ira Bloom, [tenor man/multiinstrumentalist] Peter Apfelbaum, [trombonist] Ray Anderson, [tenor player] Seamus Blake, [keyboardist] Uri Caine, [trumpeter] Steven Bernstein, [altoist] Oliver Lake—and of course, [alto player] Greg Osby, who we play with a lot now. And [turntablist] DJ Logic, who also we play with a lot. [Osby is the third player besides Hunter and Previte on the first Groundtruther CD, 2004's Latitude, and Logic is the guest on this year's Groundtruther album, Longitude.] We've almost morphed into a quasi-band unit, because we have played with a guy called DJ Olive lately a whole lot, and he's the guy we're going to be doing the last installment of the trilogy with.

AAJ: So the Groundtruther CDs are pretty much live in the studio, right?

CH: Everything we do is live, yeah. And it's all improvised. The idea behind it is that we're just trying to improvise songs, really. Tunes. We're trying to come up with a tune until it reaches its fruition within the stream of things, and then it'll morph into another tune. Or one of us will stop, and someone else will start something. So it's basically just on-the-spot tunewriting.

AAJ: So you're playing your eight-string on this stuff, obviously. Bobby is playing a regular kit and also electronic drums?

CH: Exactly. He's got a regular kit and then he's got these pads that trigger samples that he's made. And that's really great, because, you know, Bobby's quite a composer. Basically, if it's a duo, it's just the two of us there composing. Perhaps I'll put in a little melodic fragment. Then he'll put in a melodic fragment and maybe they'll work together. Maybe they won't be quite in tune and that makes it more exciting. It's just a way of trying to get to a third thing that's not particular to any quote-unquote genre. It's been great for me; it's really opened me up and gotten me to use that part of my imagination. It's very scary in a lot of ways, and just as exciting.

AAJ: It's funny you mention genre. If I'm picking through the material on the CDs, I can say this song sounds like this kind of music, and this other one sounds like that kind. "Tropic of Cancer sounds kind of like King Crimson, say. But it's really about how you can play any way you want.

CH: Yeah, it's more like playing what you think is appropriate for the moment. It's not about trying to force any particular style within the parameters—and the parameters we play in are pretty large! Ultimately, at the end of it, it's just trying to get into that space where you feel like you're hitting the right thing and you're making music. And it feels intuitive rather than being counterintuitive. Now, when we first started, I would be playing something good and then feel like I wasn't doing the right thing and launch into some idiotic cliché. Luckily for me, Bobby was patient [laughing]. But it's a way of exercising that completely improvisational aspect of who you are. It's been great for me because it's really informed everything else I do in a really cool way.

AAJ: I don't want to belabor the point of it all being live, but I have to ask. Is everything I hear happening in real time? For example, "Horse Latitudes South on Latitude has these different sections and I thought it was an edit piece.

CH: Yes. Well, here's the thing. Everything we did, we did live—and then Bobby took it home and chopped it up and edited it. Which is pretty much what they did with every jazz record you've ever heard [laughing].

AAJ: So did the improvising change when you were playing with Osby, or DJ Logic?

CH: Yeah, well, it did earlier—but as Bobby and I have played together, our thing as a unit has become so strong that they kind of had to get in where they fit in. And most people do. Anyone playing with you is going to change where your direction is. But I just think we've got such a continuity with what we're doing that most people come in and fill in the blanks. And sometimes we leave a lot of blanks to be filled.

AAJ: So this is live music and at the same time, the CDs have some weird, unnatural ambiences. It's a totally studio-effected sound at times.

CH: Bobby is really the one who did all the editing on that stuff. And he did all the mixing. I particularly like the record we did with Logic because Scott Harding did a great job mixing it. He's really a killing engineer.

AAJ: When you finish one of these records, is there very much unused material left over?

CH: Hours. We could make lots of different records of this. If we really wanted to be cool, and everyone in the world had Pro Tools, we could just put it up on the internet and everyone could make their own record out of it.

AAJ: So the upcoming and final Groundtruther installment is called Altitude, and now we know DJ Olive is the third member for this one. Is this recorded yet?

CH: Not yet, but very soon.

AAJ: Let's talk about your main gig, the Charlie Hunter Trio, which now consists of Derrek Phillips on drums and John Ellis on tenor, bass clarinet and flute.

CH: And actually Wurlitzer and melodica now.

AAJ: Oh, I had no idea.

CH: Yeah, we recorded a record down in New Orleans last April. And it's pretty smashing! It's a real departure for us. It'll be out on Ropeadope in January.

AAJ: John's recorded debut with you was the Songs From the Analog Playground CD.

CH: Yes, we've been together for a long time, going on five years now.

AAJ: Derrek joined around the time of the quintet album, Right Now Move.

CH: Yeah, about three years ago now.

AAJ: Tell me how you got acquainted with these two.

CH: Well, John—it all goes back to New Orleans today, everything.

AAJ: Well, it would.

CH: Stanton Moore introduced us. John lived in New Orleans for a long time and he moved up to Brooklyn. I needed a horn player so I went to hear him and said, "oh, you sound great: here's a gig. It worked out real nice. So we've been hookin' it up ever since; we've been through quite a few different groups together. Then Derrek—he's about ten or eleven years younger than I am, and I knew him when he was a kid out in the Bay Area. He moved out here and I thought, "wow, he's ready to roll. He's just been killing ever since. Every time we play together, he's got more scary stuff happening than he did the time before.

AAJ: I think that guy is tailor-made for your band.

CH: Yeah, we have a really nice thing.

AAJ: It's got to be nice that John Ellis is a good composer as well as a horn player. That means with you, there are two writers in the band now.

CH: Exactly. Derrek is coming along; he's started writing. But John's a great writer and a lot of times John and I—well, maybe I'll have an "A section and he'll have a "B section, or his "B section will actually become the "A section, or whatever. We'll just mash stuff together to make tunes.

AAJ: I like the Charlie Hunter Trio. I think your music works well in a trio setting. I like the spaciousness of the sound the three of you get; there's always air in there, even if someone is playing a lot. Is that spaciousness the reason you choose to work in a trio nowadays?

CH: It's funny, because I had a quintet, which I really loved doing because it was just so fun to be behind such a powerhouse. And I just ended up losing tons of money. I had a great time, but I just couldn't do it. Bush-onomics made me get back to the trio again. But the silver lining got bigger and bigger all the time and I realized that this really is my most natural milieu to function in.

When we first did it, we were like, "oh my god, what happened to all our sound? Where's everything? And then as we played more and more as a trio, it became more and more of a situation where we realized we really knew how to use the fourth member of the group—that space. The thing about the trio is that it's the biggest sound you can have with the smallest unit. So you can really stop on a dime and take it in directions that you just can't with an extra person.

AAJ: You guys actually work that "stop-on-a-dime thing—on a song like "One For the Kelpers there are those built-in start/stops in the groove.

CH: Right, exactly. And our whole thing is based on having the rhythmic thing—like everything I do, really. But we'll try to do decelerandos, accelerandos. Some of the accelerandos are my fault and they're not supposed to be there; they just happen that way [laughing].

AAJ: Yes, every beginning musician is very skilled at accelerando, whether he knows it or not.

CH: Exactly. But we try to do those kinds of things that take whatever the music gives to a bigger space.

AAJ: Well, before I learned that John was now playing more instruments than I had thought, I was going to say just how happy I am that he plays bass clarinet and flute in addition to tenor. I love the tune "Darkly, which is a flute feature for him.

CH: Oh yeah, he played great on that!

AAJ: There's something about flute over rhythmic music that is classic.

CH: Yes, it brings the Middle Eastern thing to mind.

AAJ: I also love your comping over John's playing. At times he even comps over you, which is considerably more difficult.

CH: Oh, that I like. That's my favorite thing.

AAJ: So you enjoy comping over him?

CH: Yeah, I love it. But I've come to the point in my evolution on the instrument where I realize that I can't play the same stuff that just a guitarist or organ player would play—and I need to embrace that in a big way. If you're using that Friends Seen and Unseen record as a reference, I think my comping has changed a lot since then, because I've really been getting into the idea of hearing the chords more as sounds and less as extreme jazz harmony. So I'm trying to deal with putting comping behind John that not only puts my instrument in a different space, but also puts him in an unusual space.

So instead of playing whole chords behind him, I'll play more of an involved bass line, and maybe put a fuzz on with an organ sound, or a fuzz with a tremolo sound, and play single notes or two notes behind him, very low. Or I'll do things that just try to texturalize the things while outlining the chord changes. I realized that this is 2005. Everyone that's going to be at my show has heard a dominant seventh chord before. They've heard a thirteenth chord before. So when I play certain things on the bass with root movement, whatever it is, that's already implied, so I don't necessarily feel any extreme need to play the whole chord.

AAJ: That's sort of belaboring the point.

CH: Well, sometimes. Sometimes you can and it'll be really awesome. But I'm not Ted Green. I wish I could have that facility, but I don't have that. So I have to use what I have, which is the rhythmic thing; I have to paint with those two-note, three-note chords, single-note comping—those kinds of things. And I love having one single horn comping behind me! I love that sound, and John does a great job of it. That's the thing that we said about the horn before: it's a focus issue. It's like a singer versus a drummer. If a drummer's playing a drum beat, and a singer starts singing, what do you think the audience is going to do?

AAJ: Listen to the singer.

CH: Everyone's going to focus on the singer. It's the same thing with the horn; like I was saying, the horn is like our version of the operatic tenor. It completely, in that lyrical way, overpowers everything on the stage in terms of focus. So it's really hard for a horn player to comp. But I'm totally into trying to switch those paradigms around and find a little magic space where that works, and try to mine that.

AAJ: That's the challenge. And you can't worry too much about how an audience will respond. You don't want them to miss the point, but you can't avoid something because you're worried that the audience will think, "oh, a horn solo. I suppose you have to find a balance.

CH: Right. Ultimately, my attitude is to go in with the idea of it being an evening of music. Sometimes the band will be the focus. Sometimes the focus will shift over to John; sometimes it'll focus more on me, or on Derrek. But the ultimate goal is the music being served. Whatever our capacity is as musicians, we are serving the music as a whole on stage. If not, then you have to address it. Usually, if your heart is in the right place and you're playing honestly, you would be surprised what people get! We sell people really short.

If you're in a rock club, and you go to hear Keith Jarrett play, and everyone is standing up, drinking and socializing, no one's going to listen! But Keith Jarrett's up there on the stage! No one's going to listen; no one's going to give a goddamn. Now, if you go and take a bunch of people from the sticks in Iowa, a bunch of people from New York, a bunch from who knows where, and you put them all in a concert hall, sitting down, listening to him—the experience is an entirely different thing. So it's all context. I've played for every different kind of audience you can imagine, and it's all about the context more than it is about the audience.

AAJ: I haven't spoken about how you use your eight-string guitar to play simultaneous bass and guitar parts because, even though you're known for that, to me it's like talking about a tenor player about his horn: it's just what you do. But I wonder if you'd explain how you do the simultaneous parts; not how you trained your mind and fingers, but what your hands do to play this stuff. Is your right hand doing all the work?



CH: Well, no. It's too damn complicated; that's the problem with it. The right hand is kind of the execution hand, rhythmically. If you think about it, there's all of the rhythmic combinations, the counterpoint between the thumb and the fingers—thumb playing the bass, fingers generally playing the guitar. Tons of that kind of counterpart going on. Then you have the left hand, which is the conception hand, dealing, in any given millisecond throughout the music, with your four fingers having to act as a team. Then you put those two hands together and that creates a third set of combinations between those two hands. So, basically, through experience you just learn millions and millions of these kinds of combinations. The more you learn, the easier it is to get to the music.

AAJ: I think you're there.

CH: No, no. I'm somewhere. I don't know where it is, but there's plenty of work left to do.

AAJ: Whether there is work left to do or not, it's obvious that at this extent, this is something of a second nature to you. You can improvise using this technique.

CH: Right, and that's the whole general idea. Otherwise, it'd be boring.

AAJ: When you started attempting to play like this, you really didn't have anyone to teach you how to do it.

CH: No, not at all. I just took what knowledge I had from being a guitar player and also from playing a lot of bass. And also from the drums, because I was, at that time, playing drums—not great, you know, I'm not a drum set player, I'm a drum set owner [laughing]. But I think it's a great thing to have because anyone who wants to approach this kind of music needs to understand how all of these rhythms work together. Even if you're only playing one of the parts. You need to know how it's supposed to sound with the other parts. So I just did that. The real magic thing was listening to lots of organists because even though, technically, that's a lot easier than what I'm doing, at least conceptually it gave me the idea of seeing what these guys are thinking.

AAJ: And some of those guys can just kill on the pedals.

CH: Exactly. But even the ones who can't kill on the pedals, it doesn't really matter because—they just kill! I heard this guy from Detroit named Gerard Gibbs. He plays with James Carter. Jesus Christ, is that an organ player. Whooo! This cat is bad. He is playing the organ. No joke at all.

AAJ: You've made a bunch of albums so far in your career. I know most musicians don't even listen to their records once they're done, but which albums are your favorites?

CH: Well, I'm like that too. I don't really listen to it once it's done and I probably should, but I'm just not interested. I probably should be.

AAJ: Well, you hear Charlie Hunter all the time.

CH: Yeah, exactly! I'm the last guy I want to listen to, to be honest, though it's really good to for reasons of figuring out why you suck. I mean, you shouldn't kill yourself about it, but it's a good thing to do. But I have to say that as far as the stuff I did on Blue Note, the Ready, Set ... Shango! record is my favorite one. I mean, I'm not really playing shit on it; my playing kind of eats on there, but it's more about the tunes and the band. It's really organic—kind of just what we were doing. We were just living that at that time. That's what I like about that with all of its faults; it's just who we were at that space and time, and that's nice for me. I like that record a lot. But it doesn't mean I listen to it ever! But I'll tell you what, this record we have coming out on Ropeadope: I am really actually digging this record more than I've ever really dug a record after I've made it. It's rocking. There's a lot of really rocking stuff on there. It's definitely got jazz sensibility, lots of improvisation throughout, but we're not scared to let the freak flag fly.

Visit Charlie Hunter on the web.


Selected Discography

Garage à Trois, Outre Mer (Telarc, 2005)
Groundtruther, Longitude (Thirsty Ear, 2005)
Charlie Hunter, Steady Groovin: the Blue Note Groove Sides [compilation] (Blue Note, 2005)
Groundtruther, Latitude (Thirsty Ear, 2004)
Charlie Hunter Trio, Friends Seen and Unseen (Ropeadope, 2004)
Charlie Hunter and Bobby Previte, Come in Red Dog, This is Tango Leader (Ropeadope, 2004)
Charlie Hunter Quintet, Right Now Move (Ropeadope, 2003)
Garage à Trois, Emphasizer (Tone Cool, 2003)
Charlie Hunter Quartet, Songs From the Analog Playground (Blue Note, 2001)
Charlie Hunter, Solo Eight-String Guitar (Contra Punto, 2000)
Charlie Hunter, Charlie Hunter (Blue Note, 2000)
Charlie Hunter and Leon Parker, Duo (Blue Note, 1999)
Charlie Hunter and Pound for Pound, Return of the Candyman (Blue Note, 1998)
Charlie Hunter Quartet, Natty Dread (Blue Note, 1997)
Charlie Hunter Quartet, Ready, Set ... Shango! (Blue Note 1996)
Charlie Hunter Trio, Bing, Bing, Bing! (Blue Note, 1995)
Charlie Hunter Trio, Charlie Hunter Trio (Prawn Song, 1993)

Photo Credit
Portrait by Henry Benson
Playing live by ND Koster


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