Over the weekend: Charlie Hunter at the Oriental
Hunter took the stage about a half-hour late, prompting a few rowdies who were excited to see him to yell some choice words in his direction. "You talk to your mother that way?" he yelled back as he took a seat on the stage. Proving to be as laid-back as the venue, Hunter and his group provided the most relaxed concert experience I've witnessed in a very long time. The energy concentrically circled from tune to tune, none of which were announced or seemed to be following a designated set list. Wax and wane of emotions, highs and lows set at just the right time, Hunter's masterful knack for turning a traditional blues riff into sudden bursts of violet and red, then purples to blues again, is akin to his wide range of influences. Unlike many of his peers in this so-called genre of jazz and blues, Hunter kindles a spirit and groove that's ass-shakingly good. Throughout both sets, the multi-generational audience danced as if there was no tomorrow.
Hunter's fleet fingers carved notches in the neck of his guitar as his amusing ideas shaped and molded tunes from his life experience. Flashes of his life passed as the measures carried on behind him, with or without the band. This is what a true musician does: allows the music to speak when words are absent. Likewise, Hunter set the framework for his group to deliver their autobiographies too...sans interference. The baritone player ripped through the crowd with his oomph of sheer wind power (why more groups don't use a bari-man to steady their groove is baffling), while the trumpet player unfolded a blanket of ideas and the drummer cleaned the house of any stale rhythms left over from previous groups, cymbals splashing with each smile from the crowd.
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