Groovemeister Charlie Hunter joins Jamaican guitarists legends Earl "Chinna" Smith and Ernest Ranglin for a spirited set that blends reggae flavor with dub aesthetics, courtesy of Saturday Night Live drummer Shawn Pelton's adventurous echo and looping effects triggered from his kit. Anchored by the tight hookup between Hunter's deeply grooving bass lines and Pelton's insistent, slamming backbeats, Earth Tones also features the coloristic percussion work of former Weather Reporter Manolo Badrena.
Smith's nylon-string acoustic guitar provides a nice tonal contrast to Hunter's nasty tremelo-effected chordal work on "Long Bay," "I've Got the Handle" and a cover of Eddie Brickell's "What I Am." Ranglin's rapid-fire single note flurries on electric guitar spice up tracks like Hunter's "Mestre' Tata" and an infectious one-drop interpretation of McCoy Tyner's "Passion Dance," while he reveals his more lyrical side on the melodic reggae anthem "Rivers of Babylon." Hunter, who had previously revealed his love of reggae on his 1997 Blue Note album Natty Dread, digs deeper here.