Charlie Hunter plays a seven-string guitar. So do jazz masters John Pizzarrelli and his legendary dad Bucky. Yeah, there are a few of them out there, but Hunter has an edge over them all.
He doesn’t just play the standards and add those extra notes that an additional string can provide to the song. He plays the hell out of all of the strings – whether he’s playing jazz classics or his own compositions – by adding a bluesy, jam-rock sensibility that’s heavily sewn into the fabric getting to the heart of the tune… and to its outer limits, too. He’s giving and getting it both ways, for sure.
Whipping through two 90-minute sets at the Van Dyck in Schenectady was child’s play for the former Blue Note recording artist. Why? Hunter crosses musical boundaries, and he’s played in a wide variety of contexts and aggregations. Anyone remember him putting the pick to the strings with Bobby Previte’s group at Red Square a few years back? It was magic then, and it was magic again at the Van Dyck.
By bringing along Mike Williams on bass trumpet and Eric Kalb on drum kit, Hunter continued to stretch the jazz trio context into new musical territories. The band played a bunch of public domain pieces – no royalties to be paid here – and a handful of originals.
No question about it – the band had fun. And so did the audience.
Review and photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk