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Charlie Hunter (2000)

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Charlie Hunter

Charlie Hunter is a restless musician in a dilemma. The variety of players and settings on his first several albums are testament to his restless spirit. But as his technique and confidence grow, it seems that the best showcase for his talent would be in small groups with minimal accompaniment, due to his ability to play rhythm and melody simultaneously. Since his last album, Duo, was the epitome of minimal accompaniment, Hunter must have felt obliged to vary the sound somewhat. For this album, Hunter continues his collaboration with percussionist Leon Parker, as well as bringing Josh Roseman and Peter Apfelbaum on trombone and sax, respectively, plus a couple of Parker's students. But the show still belongs to Hunter; there is one solo cut and three duets with Parker. When the other percussionists join in, the rhythms remain lean, with each player utilizing only one or two items. This leaves plenty of space for Hunter, while providing nice counterpoint to his playing. The horns are used on only four of the nine tracks of the album, but do a lot to expand the overall sound. Apfelbaum and Roseman solo nicely, but just as exciting is hearing Hunter's comping behind them. His technique really is amazing, but always at the service of music, not virtuosity. The tunes themselves lay down a solid groove; never too far from soul-jazz or funk, but with a boppish vocabulary that says this is no ordinary groove band. Charlie Hunter is another fine offering from a uniquely talented player, demonstrating both a high degree of musical sensitivity and astonishing technical abilities. ~ Sean Westergaard