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Charlie Hunter: Charlie Hunter

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Since debuting on Blue Note with 1995’s Bing Bing Bing!, the gifted guitarist has placed his eight-string ax and split-brain facility in a variety of conceptual contexts, each underscored by deep, irresistible grooves. On his sixth recording for the label, Hunter mixes it up with a number of different special guests, creating an ever-shifting setting for his wholly unique approach to the instrument. Drummer Leon Parker, who joined with Hunter on last year’s Duo, brings his coloristic, polyrhythmic flair to a soulful muse on the iconic soul man “Al Green” and a super-funky rendition of Hunter’s “Dersu,” which was originally recorded on Charlie’s 1996 outing, Ready…Set…Shango!. Drummer Adam Cruz, who toured with Hunter in a duet setting last year, appears here on the highly charged 6/8 opener “Rendezvous Avec la Verite” and a Latin-flavored rendition of Thelonious Monk’s “Epistrophy.”

Other highlights include the jaunty Texas shuffle “Nothin’ but Trouble” and the slow, eerie blues of “Flau Flau,” both featuring great solo contributions from trombonist Josh Roseman and saxophonist Peter Apfelbaum. The collection closes on a dramatic note with Hunter’s solo guitar take on Donny Hathaway’s “Someday We’ll All Be Free,” which sounds like it was recorded by at least two different players even though it was done live in real time with no overdubs; an astonishing feat that will have guitar scholars scratching their heads.