One of the first things that catches your ear when Charlie Hunter starts working his strong, dexterous hands on his custom 8-string Novak guitar is the thick, springy bass snaked into the clean guitar lines. Using separate pickups and an unusual fretting structure, Hunter plays the role of both bassist and guitarist. A stint last year with Mike Clark's Prescription Renewal had him officially filling both roles in the band. As such his rhythmic sense is keener than ever. Primetime then for him to join forces with one of the most powerfully grooving drummers in the jazz world.

Since the mid-1960’s Idris Muhammad has laid down some of the thickest, tightest drum parts this side of legendary James Brown funky drummer Clyde Stubblefield. He combines that more pop approach with the hard cookin’ crunch of Max Roach making a stick heavy propulsion that hovers like a storm you never quite know will explode. From his own seminal LP’s like Black Rhythm Revolution and Peace & Rhythm to his more recent work with sax players Joe Lovano & Gary Bartz, Muhammad brings a depth to the beat that constantly engages the ear.

San Francisco Bay Area folks will be lucky enough to see these two players unite in a trio of shows. As a duo they have a lot of open space which can be scary but in the hands of such cats this type of freedom can be a truly glorious thing. This is likely to be a much different affair than Hunter’s previous duo project with drummer Leon Parker, 1999’s Duo. The frenetic minimalism of Parker is a sharp contrast to Muhammad’s thick, warm sound. What will likely remain is the eerie sense that you're listening not to a duo but a trio. Hunter often works out such intricate bass parts that if you close your eyes it does seem a third party must be joining in. Add in the Hammond B-3 tone of Charlie’s guitar at times and it may seem like someone is channeling the early Jimmy Smith Trio. Given both players penchant for funk it’s likely these rare evenings will swing hard like the great old organ trios of the sixties. In fact, audiences may get lucky and hear this pair pull of a staple of the Idris Muhammad catalog, “Soulful Drums,” a deliciously controlled soul gem from Brother Jack McDuff.

The first gig is part of the San Francisco Jazz Festival followed by two nights in Northern California:

Thursday, October 24th @ 8:00 PM (Doors @ 7:00 PM)
The Regency Ballroom
1290 Sutter @ Van Ness, San Francisco
For more information call 415.398.5565

Friday, October 25th 9:00 PM (Doors @ 8:00 PM)
Mystic Theatre
21 -23 Petaluma Blvd. North, Petaluma
For more information call 707.765.2121

Saturday, October 26th 7:30 PM (Doors @ 6:30 PM)
Brubeck Institute
3601 Pacific Ave, Stockton
For more information call 209.946.3970

Dennis Cook
JamBase | Bay Area
Go See Live Music!

[Published on: 10/21/02]

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