The Charlie Hunter Trio

The Mermaid Lounge

April 26, 2004

Django Rheinhardt was a gypsy jazz guitarist from the early 1900's that played with amazing agility and speed. When Charlie Hunter is gone, I believe people will regard him with the same awe they reserve for Rheinhardt.

It's not like nobody has excelled at the eight string guitar before. But, Hunter is prolific, and he blurred genre boundaries. The jazz was groovin' and kickin' very hard Monday night as the Charlie Hunter Trio played an intimate set at The Mermaid Lounge. It was modern jazz spliced with funk and sex. Drummer Leon Parker and saxophonist Kenny Brooks backed Hunter.

There was no need for a bassist as Hunter used the extra two bass strings on top of his guitar. I got a close-up look at Hunter's finger-work. His sleight of hand as he interweaved bass lines with guitar lines baffled me. I didn't understand how it was possible to play an intricate melody on guitar strings and pause to fill in the bass lines without missing a beat. Now, I do. When Hunter went off on an especially sick solo, it was fun to see Parker wince in joy and then look over to see Brooks shrugging his shoulders in his inability to explain Hunter's prowess.

Brooks filled in the spaces and showed off when necessary, but Parker killed on the drums. When Hunter was smiling and feeling a groove, he was always looking at Parker. Sometimes the band wouldn't pause to indicate the end of a song for twenty minutes. They knew each other's tendencies so well, and they were very tight.

Hunter sat down the whole hour and a half set, and he didn't allow flash photography, so please forgive my lack of photos. This was a real special night. A moment in musical time. A guy next to me was recording the show. I should have gotten his card.

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