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Charlie Hunter Trio: Let the Bells Ring On

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Let the Bells Ring On, the vigorous first album from seven-string guitarist Charlie Hunter’s trio with drummer Bobby Previte and trombonist Curtis Fowlkes, is, on paper, a pretty transparent work. “Anthem USA” takes from rock music; “Hillbilly Heroine Chic” has a country influence. But this clarity extends to more than just song titles. The music itself is obvious; you never have to wonder about what’s happening. Previte lays down hard, minimal beats, as if making a statement about groove and discipline. Hunter, whose instrument allows him to play bass and guitar at the same time, gets funky in the middle. And Fowlkes is the soulful sugar on top. There is no mistaking the roles these musicians play or the energy they bring. Same goes for the music, which is simple, funky and lean. Let the Bells Ring On is wonderfully unambitious. These are tunes, not compositions.

Besides ease of comprehension, there is something that tunes generally have over compositions: Tunes get stuck in your head. It’s almost guaranteed that you’ll be singing lines from the dark soul drama “Welcome to Nutley” after the song has ended. The driving James Brown beat from “Pho-Kus-On-Ho-Ho-Kus” will follow you around. And the reggae section from “Those People,” brought to life by Fowlkes’ joyful horn, will play over and over again in your mind. There is some music you’ll never be able to shake and some you’d never want to. Bells falls squarely into the latter category.

Originally Published