All About Jazz

Home » Articles » Live Reviews

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

246

Charlie Hunter: Burlington, Vermont, April 24, 2011

Doug Collette By

Sign in to view read count
Charlie Hunter with Erik Kalb
Club Metronome
Burlington, VT
April 24, 2011

The last time guitarist nonpareil Charlie Hunter came to the greater Burlington area, drummer Erik Kalb also accompanied him—so this recent show was one of the few instances of the idiosyncratic guitarist repeating himself in his last ten years of appearances in the Green Mountains of Vermont.

Nevertheless, it was perfectly acceptable to find the duo set up on the tiny stage upstairs from the famous Nectar's club on Main Street, and wholly satisfying to watch and hear them play together again. Clearly, they've nurtured the chemistry they discovered between them, because the virtually uninterrupted ninety minutes of music found them interacting on a level so smooth and natural that it transcended mere practice or even shared history.

Kalb came close to stealing the show—and not just because San Francisco Bay Area native Hunter, sitting down with his seven-string guitar, does nothing dramatic to call attention to himself except in the most low-key manner possible as he descends into what appears to be a trancelike state while his fingers fly up and down and high and low on the fretboard. Kalb exhibited such a light but authoritative touch on his minimal drum kit that there were times, as on Billy Strayhorn's "Raincheck," when the rhythm and the melody fused into one.

No big surprise there, though, as Charlie Hunter has made that alchemical action his stock in trade for most of his career. But it's nonetheless startling to watch how he and Kalb can continue so long, playing faultlessly in tandem, without faltering for ideas or otherwise losing their way. It's a mark of that continuity, not to mention their versatility as players, that never once was there a hint of their missing other melody or rhythm instrument players.

It's somewhat of a hide-and-seek game the two musicians played on stage, introducing, abandoning, embroidering and embellishing, then reintroducing themes and tunes in reconstructed form. But due to the invariable groove at the heart of their interaction, it never became a mere intellectual exercise. Not that it ever really could, given Hunter's whoops and laughs, and devilish grins. There was also Kalb's expression of wonderment as he occasionally watched his mentor play solo: these two are indeed kindred spirits.

As is so often the case with Charlie Hunter's performances, his closing on Easter night was both a self-referential statement and an offering of benediction to his audience, sadly numbering just around a hundred in the tiny Metronome space. "Ain't We Got Fun" hearkened to the guitarist's latest recording Public Domain (Spire Artist Media, 2010)—an old standard at first easily recognizable, then not. The encore spoke to Hunter's inherently improvisational, spontaneous nature: when someone called out for The Beatles, Kalb hummed a refrain and seconds later, the two were playing around with "From Me to You." Proof positive it doesn't necessarily take a large audience, but rather a deeply personal exercise in style, to create a memorable live experience.

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Abdullah Ibrahim at the Michigan Theater Live Reviews
Abdullah Ibrahim at the Michigan Theater
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: April 25, 2018
Read The Jane Getter Premonition at Iridium Live Reviews
The Jane Getter Premonition at Iridium
by Roger Weisman
Published: April 24, 2018
Read Liberty Ellman Trio at Crescent Arts Centre Live Reviews
Liberty Ellman Trio at Crescent Arts Centre
by Ian Patterson
Published: April 22, 2018
Read Tallinn Music Week 2018 Live Reviews
Tallinn Music Week 2018
by Henning Bolte
Published: April 19, 2018
Read James Blood Ulmer and the Thing at Bochum Art Museum Live Reviews
James Blood Ulmer and the Thing at Bochum Art Museum
by Phillip Woolever
Published: April 17, 2018
Read Jocelyn Medina at Jazz at Kitano Live Reviews
Jocelyn Medina at Jazz at Kitano
by Tyran Grillo
Published: April 16, 2018
Read "Arturo Sandoval at the Blue Note" Live Reviews Arturo Sandoval at the Blue Note
by Nicholas F. Mondello
Published: October 30, 2017
Read "Lionel Loueke Trio at A-Trane" Live Reviews Lionel Loueke Trio at A-Trane
by Friedrich Kunzmann
Published: February 26, 2018
Read "Isabella Lundgren at Bullret Jazz Club" Live Reviews Isabella Lundgren at Bullret Jazz Club
by Patrick Burnette
Published: November 25, 2017