Charlie Hunter Trio at Stillwater
Charlie Hunter's latest recording effort, "Gentlemen, I Neglected to Inform You You Will Not Be Getting Paid," features the jazz guitarist alongside drummer Eric Kalb (Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, John Scofield) and a new horn section including trombonists Curtis Fowlkes (Jazz Passengers, Lounge Lizards, Bill Frisell) and Alan Ferber (Don Byron, Kenny Wheeler) and trumpeter Eric Biondo (Antibalas, TV on the Radio).
The album marks Hunter's second full-length release on his independent label, Spire Artist Media, and will be available at retail stores and digitally in early January.
Hunter hit the road to promote the album earlier this month, and fans can hear a live performance by Hunter and his trio, Kalb and Ferber, tonight at Stillwater in Ashland. The CD will be available at the show.
"Gentlemen" follows Hunter's 2008 trio album, "Baboon Strength," with Erik Deutsch on keyboards and Tony Mason on drums.
"The songwriting on the new album is a little different," says Hunter. "The songs on 'Baboon' were conceived for that trio. On 'Gentlemen,' I conceived the songs for a drum and guitar duo augmented by a brass section."
Hunter plays custom-made seven-string guitars, on which he simultaneously plays bass lines, rhythm guitar and solos.
"The seven-string has most of the range of a bass and a guitar," Hunter says. "It's my version of a drum set on a bass and guitar instrument. It allows me to do stuff that you can't do on just a guitar or a base. It creates its own space."
The guitars are built by luthier Jeff Traugott of Santa Cruz, Calif.
With a nod to Lester Bowie's Brass Fantasy, Hunter set out to embrace a full brass experience on "Gentlemen." He and Fowlkes, Ferber and Biondo looked at the nine original compositions on the album to open all possibilities.
"I love the sax, but it's a modern jazz instrument and forces you to play a certain way," Hunter says. "Brass is more malleable. There are so many things you can do."
"Gentlemen" leads with a mid-tempo soul-shaker titled "You Look Good in Orange." Hunter wrote the second track, "Antoine," while playing with Garage A Trois, an ensemble that featured Hunter, drummer Stanton Moore, saxophonist Skerik and vibe player Mike Dillon.
Hunter wrote the guitar, bass and drums tune "High and Dry" after a short stint with trumpeter Ron Miles earlier this year. Translated into English as "all that glitters isn't gold," the track "Tout Ce Qui Brille N'est Pas Or" is a bluesy song led by Hunter and drummer Kalb on brushes. "High Pockets and a Fanny Pack" brings the funk with horn solos and rhythm guitar licks.
"Drop a Dime," which also appears on Hunter's 2007 "Mistico," resurfaces with a full brass attack featuring dueling trombones and a dubbed-out bass line. As for "Ode to My Honda Odyssey," Hunter says he has 143,000 miles on his.
A standout ballad on "Gentlemen" is "Every Day You Wake Up New York Says No," a slow-burner of a song that fits well with its title, and the title track has an Albert Collins or Lonnie Mack vibe.
"This is a guitar novelty tune," Hunter says. "It's for all of the guys who want to play 'the blooz.' We call it 'the Budweiser blooz.' I think a lot of hobbyists in the electric blues industry would like that song."
Hunter's career as a composer and band leader spans about 16 years and 20 albums. He's worked with artists such as Norah Jones, Mos Def, John Mayer, D'Angelo and others, and he's recorded for the Blue Note label, Concord, Ropeadope and others.
Hunter's venture into independent recording is steered by his motivation to release music that most inspires him.
"I grew up with a lot of guitarists," he says. "My earliest influences include everything, just as today. I'd name them, but I'm afraid I'd leave someone out."