Charlie Hunter - Friends Seen & Unseen CD


Hunter has scaled down from the 2003 quintet of Right Now Move, returning to the guitar-drums-saxophone format that he launched in 1993. Retaining Derrek Phillips on drums and John Ellis on tenor, flute, and bass clarinet, Hunter continues to find fresh approaches to the groove, using his 8-string guitar to create bass lines and organ-style riffs in support of his minimalist leads. He's a master of musical inference: witness "Soweto's Where It's At," a serene invocation of the South African township, drenched in American gospel and roots blues. "Shuffle" builds its electric intensity from Hunter's wah-wah pedal, while "Bonus Round" is a kind of high-speed bop with subtle harmonic dimension. It's often the slow tunes here that show Hunter's finest qualities. "Slow Blues" is just that, testimony to how much the guitarist has grown. It's perfect, soulful playing, anchored by Phillips's time-keeping and amplified by Ellis's tenor. --Stuart Broomer