268

Charlie Hunter Trio: Copperopolis

Paul Olson By

Sign in to view read count
Charlie Hunter Trio: Copperopolis
Eight-string guitar whiz Charlie Hunter has done some especially interesting work recently—his Groundtruther experiments with percussionist Bobby Previte explored the limits of outside studio improvisation while his playing in the collective band Garage à Trois dug deep into New Orleans third-line groove and stacked rhythms. As good as those projects were, it's nice to see Hunter return to his main gig, the Charlie Hunter Trio, whose last CD, Friends Seen and Unseen (Ropeadope, 2004), seemed to set a standard for groove-based guitar trio interplay.

No disrespect to Friends Seen and Unseen, but Hunter's new trio disc pretty much leaves it in the shade. While there's no change in personnel—the group still consists of Hunter, tenor saxman John Ellis and drummer Derrek Phillips—there have been considerable changes within that lineup. Ellis still plays tenor and a bit of bass clarinet in the group, but now he's playing lots of Wurlitzer and melodica, often combined with tenor in the same song. It's hard to overstate the expansion of the group sound this creates—a saxophone can't really comp alongside a guitar. Ellis' Wurlitzer can, and does, which provides another layer of event to the music. (Previously, even with Hunter's vaunted simultaneous-bass line eight-string playing, things sometimes got a little thin in terms of group activity when Ellis laid out.)

Everything the group's doing now can be heard in the album opener, "Cueball Bobbin'. Copperopolis is being heralded as Hunter's "rock album, and the intro, with Hunter's electric wail, Ellis' Wurli skronk and almost-violent Phillips drumrolls could vibrate a sport arena pretty effectively—but here and everywhere else on the CD, the bombast is strained through Hunter's playful bong-hit affability and his total lack of pomposity. The rest of "Cueball Bobbin' consists a hard rock guitar riff accompanied by Ellis' Wurli comp groove over Phillips' stutter-step drum bludgeon; this part pivots around a time-stopping unison guitar/melodica phrase that somehow fuels the tune's momentum while it momentarily stops the time. Hunter's guitar solo here has plenty of liquid shred, but it's no more engaging than Phillips' brawny wallop, locked in as it is to Hunter's own bass line. Hunter seems to have intentionally reduced the complexity of his bass parts, eschewing virtuosity in favor of maximum deep-pocket fusion with Phillips.

There's not too much sax on that one, but barnburners like "Swamba Redux" and "Blue Sock" feature Ellis' snaky, almost alto-ish tenor to stunning effect. "The Pursuit Package is a two-minute John-Bonham-Meets-Link-Wray teaser that crashes into the goofily lilting "A Street Fight Could Break Out, with near-perfect Wurlitzer comping that slots between the spaces in Hunter's lines, all over a groove made somehow more menacing by its sheer slowness. Ellis' melodica solo steals the show , though.

The trio's interplay and chemistry here seem worlds beyond the same band recorded on Friends Seen and Unseen two years ago. That makes this a very good time to get out and see this band play.

Visit Charlie Hunter on the web.

Track Listing

Cueball Bobbin'; Frontman; Swamba Redux; Copperopolis; Blue Sock; The Pursuit Package; A Street Fight Could Break Out; Drop the Rock; Think of One.

Personnel

Charlie Hunter: eight-string guitar; John Ellis: tenor saxophone, bass clarinet, Wurlitzer, melodica; Derrek Phillips: drums.

Album information

Title: Copperopolis | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Unknown label

Post a comment about this album

Tags

Shop Amazon

More

Read All Figured Out
All Figured Out
Derek Brown and The Holland Concert Jazz Orchestra
Read Supersense
Supersense
Steph Richards
Read Alex Moxon Quartet
Alex Moxon Quartet
Alex Moxon Quartet
Read I Went This Way
I Went This Way
Rachel Musson
Read HH
HH
Lionel Loueke
Read Dominos
Dominos
Chuck Anderson

All About Jazz needs your support

Donate
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.