Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Charlie Hunter - Ready...Set...Shango!

Although it is never clear what "shango" is, this set by guitarist Charlie Hunter's quartet is quite accessible and enjoyable. Marketed as some type of new alternative jazz, the music in reality is bop-based and not that far from soul-jazz. The most unusual aspect of the set is that Hunter plays an eight-string guitar, which not only allows him to play basslines (there is no bassist on the CD) but at times to emulate an organ. Both tenorman Dave Ellis, who would soon start his own solo career, and altoist Calder Spanier have plenty of solo space, while drummer Scott Amendola keeps the music grooving and moving. The nine selections may all be originals, but the music is also tied to the swinging tradition. Recommended. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

This is funky, organ-driven soul-jazz, with one catch: there's no organ. Because Hunter fills the organ's role with his fluid eight-string guitar grooves, everyone wants to lump him into acid jazz or even rock. Hunter borrows a certain intensity from rock, but he also includes dynamic funk-oriented rhythms and jazz's improvisational aesthetic. Like many of the best of the soul-jazz albums, this 1996 release is predicated on emotion and feeling, not complex chord changes or technically impressive flurries. These nine originals use a variety of rhythms as improvisational springboards: joyous romps, slow grinds, soft Latin-tinged waves, and bluesy shuffles. Saxmen Dave Ellis and the late Calder Spanier can handle fragile melodic phrases as easily as from-the-belly wails. Hunter's guitar aims for tones, moods, and textures while he anchors the bass line with those extra two strings. - by Marc Greilsamer

Artist: Charlie Hunter Quartet
Album: Ready... Set... Shango!
Year: 1996
Label: Blue Note
Runtime: 52:34

Tracks:
1.  Ashby Man (Charlie Hunter/Calder Spanier) 5:18
2.  Teabaggin' (Calder Spanier) 5:41
3.  Let's Get Medieval (Charlie Hunter) 6:35
4.  The Shango Pt. III (Charlie Hunter) 7:49
5.  Dersu (Charlie Hunter) 6:48
6.  911 (Charlie Hunter) 5:22
7.  Shango...The Ballad (Charlie Hunter) 4:34
8.  Thursday The 12th (Charlie Hunter) 5:43
9.  Sutton (Calder Spanier) 4:44

Personnel:
Charlie Hunter (Guitar)
Dave Ellis (Tenor Saxophone)
Calder Spanier (Alto Saxophone)
Scott Amendola (Drums)

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