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Critic's Choice

Charlie Hunter

The undefinable guitarist Charlie Hunter, Thursday, July 27, at the Gothic Theatre and Friday, July 28, at the Boulder Theater, has become, in the public’s mind, inseparable from his instrument. Hunter’s eight-string Novax guitar, a one-of-a-kind hybrid he designed himself, allows him to play bass and lead lines simultaneously and to process his sound into dazzling new shapes -- here a slide guitar warble, there a seeming blast of Hammond B-3, just for starters. The resulting one-man-band effect can be overwhelming, always full of intrigue and surprises. On his new CD, the eponymous Charlie Hunter (Blue Note), the 32-year-old virtuoso again demonstrates why he’s been able to draw young audiences who may not know Charlie Parker from Charlie Chaplin into his groove-jazz realm, where he’s just as likely to turn Bob Marley’s classic reggae inside out or essay a ballad with heartrending directness. Of the nine tunes Hunter treats here, seven are originals, including the engaging Flau Flau,: a postmodern New Orleans funeral dirge heavy on the vibrato, and a cooker called Nothin’ but Trouble,: on which tenor man Peter Apfelbaum and trombonist Josh Roseman provide some bottom. On the emotional Al Green: and a daring, Latin-inflected take on Thelonious Monk’s Epistrophy,: he is joined only by superb percussionist Leon Parker, for whom less equipment always means more expression. As for Hunter, who’s collaborated in recent years with artists as varied as U2 and D’Angelo, he’s in no danger of running out of ideas -- or stylistic adventures -- anytime soon. Eight strings continue to serve him beautifully.

 
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