GOOD GROOVIN’: Far too few people were in attendance Sunday
night when the Charlie Hunter Trio rolled into SOhO, but those
lucky few who braved the 10 p.m. kickoff were rewarded with perhaps
the most complete sound ever to come from a jazz trio. From a
distance, Hunter the guitarist rips, but when you get a closer look
at his buttery licks, your jaw comes unhinged in mind-boggling
amazement as you realize he is simultaneously playing a pretty mean
bass guitar on his eight-string freak machine. Mix that with the
superb straight-ahead drumming of Derrek Phillips and the saxophone
stylings of John Ellis and you have yourself a trio so organically
full that it’s virtually impossible to not move some body part in
time with rhythms being produced. Sunday’s show didn’t disappoint
as the Berkeley-based trio floated seamlessly through a menagerie
of jazz moods, with the occasional detour toward subtle hues of the
blues and smoky incarnations of Augustus Pablo’s dubbed-down,
jazz-infused Jamaican beats of the ’70s. It was during the latter
when Ellis — alternating between his Wurlitzer and homemade
melodica — provided a beautiful and haunting backdrop for Hunter’s
best guitar of the night. Playing mostly from the group’s
soon-to-be-released album Copperopolis, the show was a treat for
Hunter neophytes and head-bobbing veterans alike. With Monday
morning looming large, the trio took the weekend a few hours later
than expected and blissfully so. It seemed the only predicament
facing the audience was whether or not to surrender completely to
the music and let the sweet sounds take them into the ozone or to
keep a slice of their mind present so as to take notes from one of
the reigning wizards of the jazz world.   — Ethan Stewart


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