(Thirsty Ear Records)
Describing Charlie Hunter is an arduous task. He’s a guitar innovator, that’s for sure, and he’s an expert improviser who can seamlessly switch from bop to hip-hop to ambient music. And there’s no telling who he’ll bring along with him for the ride.
The only thing you can ever truly expect from any of Hunters projects is the unexpected. The only constants are his seven-string guitar, on which he plays the bass lines and guitar melodies simultaneously, and the fact that anyone he works with is going to be a top-notch boundary-breaking musician.
On his latest project, Groundtruther, Hunter again collaborates with electronic drummer Bobby Previte. The resulting CD, “Latitude” is the first in a trilogy in which the duo works with a third musician for each project. Alto saxophonist Greg Osby is the guest of honor on this project, which, according to the liner notes, is “played 99 percent live and 100 percent improvised.”
As with any Hunter project, his guitar playing is the star. It’s simply mind-boggling the sounds he’s able to coax out of that thing. Each of the songs on “Latitude” is named for, you guessed it, a latitude beginning with the North Pole and ending with the South, but the music would be right at home in some sort of comic sci-fi movie. “North Pole” is spooky and minimal. As the band moves south, they journey through funk, slinky R&B, drum ‘n’ bass, cool jazz and crazy space-age sound effects, ending with what sounds like the mating call of a swarm of sick mosquitoes (which, incidentally, sent my dog into a barking frenzy every time I played it). Those with little patience for minimalism or skronky jazz should stay away from this one. But if you appreciate improvisational give-and-take and can hear Hunter, Previte and Osby are headed, you’ll probably enjoy the journey.
Thursday, December 09, 2004
Tuesday, December 07, 2004
Here's an interesting article from The Washington Post on what musicians really think of the whole file-sharing debate. According to a study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, nearly half of the artists surveyed think unauthroized file-sharing should be illegal, yet they don't feel that such sharing will have much of an effect on their own bottom line. In fact, many artists think such sharing could be helpful in exposing their music to a wider audience. I haven't had a chance to fully digest this report yet, but it seems to suggest that such artists want to enjoy the obvious benefits of file-sharing as long as they, personally, don't lose any cash.
In related news, Cat's Cradle is now offering Internet downloads of select shows at www.emusic.com/catscradle. But how would participating artists feel if their shows ended up on Soulseek? I'll invetigate further.
Posted by Karen A. Mann at 7:30 AM
Saturday, December 04, 2004
The Small Faces
Here are a few thoughts that went throught my head during The Cover-up at Kings:
My digital camera sucks.
Cheetie is an AWESOME guitar player.
I never knew the Little River Band had so many hits.
Who the hell are these guys? (re: The Small Faces)
I think Alice Cooper's wearing my pants.
Having missed the first night of the Cover-up (Jessica says Pentagram rocked), I wanted to get there early and see as much of night two as possible. The Little River Band (Torch Marauder plus the guys from Razzle) were already on stage, surprising the hell out of a bunch of hipsters who didn't realize they knew so many of the band's songs. I never thought I'd see a sing-along to "Lonesome Loser" at Kings, but then, I never thought I'd see that same crowd belting out "Anyway You Want It" when that Journey tribute band came through town a couple of years back.
I've seen more than my fair share of tribute bands. The best ones are either dead-on both musically and visually (like some of the better KISS tributes), or they give it a serious twist (Renelvis, the midget KISS band, any of the all-girl metal tributes like the Iron Maidens), or they cover some band that no one would ever think to do (Roxotica, the aforementioned "Little River Band"). Finally there's the entertainingly bad. I doubt The Monkees are actively trying to become a working tribute band, so I don't feel bad about putting them in that last category.
Who is this man?
The Small Faces, on the other hand, could go on the road today with their act (that is, if there was actually a demand for a Small Faces tribute band). But the most frustrating thing about them is that I can't find out who they are! I know John Howie, most recently heard as the foghorn-voiced singer in Two Dollar Pistols, was playing drums. Someone told me that the keyboard player was Mike Walters from Jett Rink. I've seen "Ronnie Lane" and "Steve Marriott" around, but no one seemed to know who they are in real life. I've enclosed a photo, so if you know who they are, send me an e-mail. It's really starting to bug me.
It was about this time that my digital camera decided to be temperamental, so I didn't get any photos of Blondie, which featured Matt Gentling of Archers of Loaf on bass and a super-sexy Deborah Harry (I think she was from The Comas). When I would try to snap a picture, either nothing would happen, or it would take so long to focus that whatever I was trying to take a picture of was no longer happening. That's how I ended up with lots of blurry photos of people looking away.
I did manage to get a few shots of Alice Cooper, who was the highlight of my evening. I left afterward, missing The Talking Heads and Johnny Thunders & the Heartbreakers. At that point the club was so crowded that I could hardly breathe, which always puts me in a bit of a panic situation. Husband-and-wife team Paul Siler and Cheetie Kumar, who have been in several bands -- including The Cherry Valence, played guitar. I've always known Cheetie was a good guitarist and bass player, but watching her playing "Billion Dollar Babies" and "School's Out" solidified my opinion. Not that Paul's any slouch, mind you. It's just that Cheetie totally rocked.
Are these my pants?
Anyway, I kept thinking that Alice's (Craig Tilley from El Boa and The Weather) vinyl "snakeskin" pants looked a lot like a pair I took to the Salvation Army not too long ago. I sent a note to the El Boa band page on myspace asking where he got those pants, but so far haven't heard anything. My first thought was, "damn, those pants are cool. Why did I give them away?" Then I thought, "because you haven't been able to pull them up over your butt in five years."
As I said, I left after Alice, but got the word today that The Talking Heads were phenomenal and The Heartbreakers were pretty good too.
Cool photo of Paul
Posted by Karen A. Mann at 3:22 PM