Words by: Jamie Bacheller :: Images by Sam Friedman
Charlie Hunter Trio :: 12.09.06 :: Humphrey's Backstage Lounge :: San Diego, CA
The latest incarnation of the Charlie Hunter Trio played to a packed house at San Diego's Humphrey's, where Hunter and his current trio brought a new twist to the music from his Copperopolis album.
Deutsch, Lott, Hunter :: 06.06.06
Copperopolis was released last February and featured his previous trio, which included saxophonist John Ellis and drummer Derrek Phillips. Comparing the two trios is difficult. If you were lucky enough to catch the previous trio in 2005, you could see a certain chemistry had developed over several years. The new trio will get there, but it will take a little time. The connections are forming - Hunter and new drummer Simon Lott were making eye contact and playing off one another throughout the show.
The Hunter/Ellis/Phillips trio was rooted in jazz. By the time they put out Copperopolis a shift in direction was underway toward rock-fusion, though they still had a strong jazz foundation. The Lott/Deutsch trio differs in that it has a sound rooted in the jamband genre. Keyboardist Erik Deutsch plays Fender Rhodes and a Casio with a variety of effects, giving him a sound somewhat like Marco Benevento. Drummer Simon Lott attacks the drums with precision while maintaining a Billy Martin like groove.
Lott & Hunter :: 06.06.06
The set opened with an extended version of "Blue Sock" from Copperopolis. Hunter seemed focused on crunchy, semi-distorted chords and fast moving bass lines. In the middle of the set during "Drop the Rock" the rock was dropped pretty hard. Heads bopped in the crowd during a dub style take on "Frontman."
This is Hunter's second pass at the material on Copperopolis and with the introduction of a new band, it seems like its being taken in a different direction. It's hard to pinpoint the new sound. Sometimes it rocks a little harder than the old trio, other times it can be looser and more atmospheric.
The first set was a little light on Hunter's patented virtuosic, double-brain solos, and near the end of it he was holding his left hand. I bumped into him during the set break and asked him what was up? He said he had whacked it on a metal chair and could hardly use his pinky during the first set. I imagine playing two instruments at once is extremely difficult, and even more so if you're down a finger.
At the end of the set break, "Jesus Left Chicago" was playing over the PA. After returning to the stage, the trio jumped right into their own version of the ZZ Top classic. From there they moved into a reworked version of "Cueball Boppin." The Hendrix-style riff was gone, replaced with a progression of quick, funky chords. When it came time to solo Hunter stepped up big, turning on the heavy distortion and laying into some nasty riffs. Top notch soloing ended up being the theme for the short second set.
Simon Lott :: 06.06.06
The evolution of Charlie Hunter continues with his latest trio. They're proving they can mold the songs from Copperopolis into a sound of their own. It will be interesting to see what sort of new material they will work into their arsenal. With a sound that is a little more rock and groove focused than his past projects, this could be the band that the jamband scene has been waiting for Hunter to assemble.
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