8 String Guitar Virtuoso and his Group return to Nighttown!
Featuring Michael Blake on Tenor Sax and George Sluppick on drums
Charlie Hunter is not only a singular guitarist - he uniquely plays a custom-made seven-string ax that allows him to deliver bass grooves simultaneously with rhythm chords and solo notes - but he’s also a creative whose style and expression continue to advance with each project he immerses himself into. Proof positive is Hunter’s new album—and 18th as a leader—whimsically titled Everyone Has a Plan Until They Get Punched in the Mouth, out July 22nd on GroundUP Music/Verve Label Group. The superlative ten-tune collection of songs—all originals except for one cover—is steeped in the blues and r&b. Hunter has enlisted a stellar support team of trombonist Curtis Fowlkes, cornetist Kirk Knuffke and drummer Bobby Previte who play live in the studio for optimum effect.
At turns Hunter’s new music takes on a noir feel, lopes in a fluid slow flow, charges upbeat with a groove and horn interchange, twirls into a playful party mode, moves into a gentle lyricism—all soaked in a blues sensibility and tone. “My idea was to make a blues record,” says Hunter. “The concept was to play and not think of it as jazz, but an improvisation of the blues and r&b. This is not from a jazz harmonic place, but straight blues and r&b improvising. It’s all done live in the same room. No overdubs and maybe just one edit where we fixed a note.”
As for that 11-word title, Hunter explains, “it’s a Mike Tyson quote. He’s talking about a specific boxing thing, but I feel that it applies to any life endeavor. It’s like someone coming out of music school and being presented with the reality of making a living playing music. So that title is also the name of one of the songs. In fact, almost every name of a song on the record is a quote from someone, somewhere.”
Hunter was born in Rhode Island. When he was four his mom packed him and his younger sister in an old yellow school bus and headed west. After several years living on a commune in Mendocino County they settled in Berkeley, California. Hunter graduated from Berkeley High School and took lessons from guitar teacher Joe Satriani. At eighteen he moved to Paris. Hunter says that it was his experience busking on the streets of Paris that provided him with "on the job training" because he busked for 8 to 12 hours a day to make ends meet. Returning to the Bay area, Hunter played a seven-string guitar and organ in Michael Franti's political rap group, The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy.
After his first album, 1993’s Charlie Hunter Trio, released on pop artist Les Claypool’s Prawn Song label, Hunter was signed to Blue Note Records and released a total of eight albums in ten years. Everyone Has a Plan Until They Get Punched in the Mouth marks a return to a bigger potential audience, thanks to the rise of the Brooklyn-based Snarky Puppy. The group’s bandleader, Michael League, has been a Hunter fan since he was in high school. “I had been hearing the band’s name but I didn’t know what they were,” says Hunter. “Turns out there a great bunch of musicians and people.” Hunter played on one track of the Snarky Puppy album, Family Dinner Volume 2, and was asked by League to record an album for his GroundUP Music label.