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.

Related Video

Shop

More Articles

Read Vossajazz 2017 Live Reviews Vossajazz 2017
by Ian Patterson
Published: April 23, 2017
Read Hermeto Pascoal at SFJAZZ Live Reviews Hermeto Pascoal at SFJAZZ
by Harry S. Pariser
Published: April 21, 2017
Read Lewis Nash and Steve Wilson at JazzNights Live Reviews Lewis Nash and Steve Wilson at JazzNights
by David A. Orthmann
Published: April 18, 2017
Read Tallinn Music Week 2017 Live Reviews Tallinn Music Week 2017
by Martin Longley
Published: April 16, 2017
Read Bergamo Jazz Festival 2017 Live Reviews Bergamo Jazz Festival 2017
by Francesco Martinelli
Published: April 14, 2017
Read Miles From India at SFJAZZ Live Reviews Miles From India at SFJAZZ
by Walter Atkins
Published: April 14, 2017
Read "Trevor Anderies Quintet at Fresh Santa Fe" Live Reviews Trevor Anderies Quintet at Fresh Santa Fe
by Dave Wayne
Published: October 31, 2016
Read "Freihofer's Saratoga Jazz Festival 2016" Live Reviews Freihofer's Saratoga Jazz Festival 2016
by R.J. DeLuke
Published: July 8, 2016
Read "Montreux Jazz Festival 2016" Live Reviews Montreux Jazz Festival 2016
by Ian Patterson
Published: July 20, 2016
Read "The Wood Brothers at Higher Ground" Live Reviews The Wood Brothers at Higher Ground
by Doug Collette
Published: February 10, 2017

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM RECORDS | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!