Now that Charlie Hunter has proven that the 8-string guitar is no mere novelty but a valid instrument that serves his creative muse quite well, he is more likely to be taken seriously by the critical masses (just for the uninitiated, Charlie plays both bass and guitar lines simultaneously on his custom-built axe). Yeah, his records are danceable and fun, but each one also seems bent on finding new avenues, not just repeating a popular formula that worked well in the past. As great as the Bob Marley cover disc and the Shango album were, Hunter’s subsequent work has evolved with his own musical maturity.
Picking up where his last project left off, this new self-titled affair brings drummer and percussionist Leon Parker back on board with further coloration on a few cuts provided by the horns of Peter Apfelbaum and Joshua Roseman. Still, Hunter and Parker can make a lot of music just by their lonesome. Check out the slow drag of "Al Green" and the "bop meets Afro-Cuban" sensibilities of "Epistrophy." With a great shuffle beat, "Nothin’ But Trouble" proves to be anything but trouble for this group as Apfelbaum’s tenor shouts a chorus or two, followed by some plunger mute work from trombonist Roseman. As good as all that and even more intriguing, "Flau Flau" goes for a "Texas twang meets after-hours juke joint" feel complete with a three-man percussion section.
Hunter has definitely carved a niche for himself and he undoubtedly has some pet licks, not to mention his penchant for running the guitar through a Leslie speaker. Still, this latest effort has a freshness to it that makes it an easy recommendation for long-time fans and a valid introduction for the novice.