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Charlie Hunter: Seven-String Samurai

By Published: November 9, 2009
There's lots of incredible concepts going on, there's lots of incredible instrumental virtuosity going on, all this really commendable stuff but at the end of the day, it ends up falling a little flat because there's no community component. The only jazz community seems to be the community of musical pedants, guys and gals who went music school and have amassed this incredibly large amount of knowledge. But it's also very myopic, and every time you go to see it, it's like going to see a recital. That's just the surface of it, though. How do you figure out what works better? How do you connect with the audience? How do you have soul?

AAJ: The older community is not there anymore is what you're saying... the people who used to beat on the younger musicians?

CH: Yeah, there's not that system of the young guys getting schooled by the older guys. They get schooled in schools. And I think that's really great for making music that is of and about jazz, but it never really moves me. I mean, I'm always as a musician impressed, but I just don't like to listen to music to be impressed as a musician. I want to go out and listen to music like everyone else does, to hear music that connects with them and puts them on a different plane, you know?

AAJ: Why do you think that older community is not there?

CH: Because they're dead. Most of them are gone, you know.

AAJ: Who used to beat on you when you were coming up as a musician?

Charlie HunterCH: When I was coming up, it wasn't jazz guys, it was all the older kind of blues and R&B guys I was playing with, and then when I was a street-musician there were a lot of these different people that were much better than me. I mean, I didn't go to music school. I went to a little community college for theory and harmony. I used to have that as a chip on my shoulder, but now I thank my stars that I was able to have that wide variety of experiences, because it made me the musician I am.

AAJ: So what would be your advice be to these young people who are coming out of these schools?

CH: What you do always needs to extend beyond the culture of musicians. If the music you make is only made within the culture of musicians, and that is satisfying to you, then go for it. But generally I think music serves a larger purpose, it's got to be more than just that. AAJ:What is that larger purpose to you?

CH: Connecting outside of yourself. I mean it doesn't have to be on a grand scale. Think about the pop music during the 1960s, and The Beatles

The Beatles
The Beatles

and how everyone could relate to that. I mean that's huge, that's gigantic. I mean I'm 42, you're 27 but if I say "Sgt. Peppers" you and I could get into a conversation right now about everything on Sgt. Peppers. That kind of music can bring two completely differently people totally together. And as you get smaller, I say Stanley Turrentine
Stanley Turrentine
Stanley Turrentine
1934 - 2000
sax, tenor
to you, maybe you'd know that or maybe you wouldn't. But if you and I get into a conversation on a Stanley Turrentine album, then that brings these two people who never knew each other closer together. And I feel that's what you're trying to do with music, trying to get people to communicate with each other and with you on this level that is really very deep and non-verbal. There is no next level intellectually, I don't think that's the thing. At least for me, my thing is to always find the balance between the intellectual and the visceral.

Selected Discography

Charlie Hunter, Baboon Strength (Spire Artists, 2008)

Charlie Hunter, Mistico (Fantasy, 2007)

Groundtruther, Altitude (Thirsty Ear, 2007)

Charlie Hunter and Bobby Previte, The Coalition of the Willing (Ropeadope, 2006)

Charlie Hunter, Copperopolis (Ropeadope, 2006)

Garage A 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 A 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 Credits

Page 1, 2, 4: Takehiko Tokiwa

Page 3: Michael Weintrob

Page 5: Mark Sheldon

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Download jazz mp3 “Ain't We Got Fun” by Charlie Hunter Download jazz mp3 “Swamba Redux” by Charlie Hunter Trio