Charlie not only remains creatively efficient, releasing at least one album per year since 1994, but also is a confirmed and tenured road dog. He spent the summer touring in support of Charlie Hunter, covering all points in between including the gregarious Vynyl in Los Angeles, CA which partnered a sensational performance in a great sounding room with a reactive audience. Accompanying Hunter were Chris Lovejoy (congas, percussion) and Stephen Chopek (drums, percussion). Stephen and Chris were set up facing one another with Charlie on the inset in the middle, which sort became like a Bermuda triangle, for once your focus slipped inside this mythical musical field, you were lost in a sea of percussive and rhythmic abandon until the sensory ship came back to shore. Material from Charlie Hunter dominated the set with spirited energy abound in songs such as “Flau Flau,” “Dersu,” “Nothin’ But Trouble,” and “Rendezvous Avec La Verite”. Other highlights were a sublime take on “Mean Streak” from Duo and an intense percussive explosion appropriately referred to as “Stephen’s Bad Ass Groove”. The trio in this incarnation just finished up another series of dates the last week of October, but will navigate the road throughout the Southeast from November 10-19th as the middle act on the loosely named Blue Note Neon Groove Tour featuring label brethren Jazz Mandolin Project and Soulive. And then to usher in the REAL millennium, the Charlie Hunter Trio will play a week’s worth of shows at the world famous Yoshi’s in Oakland, CA from Dec 26th to Dec 31st.
Like any emerging breed, Hunter has been trapped, but not skinned by the critics. Their intent is not to stuff him but, for now, to position him on the mantel with a nod to the idea that one day he may deserve placement on the hallowed wall of nature’s finest. Recently, Downbeat Magazine cited Charlie as the “# 1 guitarist deserving wider recognition” with High Times Magazine giving him the nod as Best Jazz Artist and Best Jazz Record for 2000. These acknowledgements are definitely echoed long and loud by his growing legion of Hunter heads, which will continue to gather round the fireplace to stare at their prized trophy.