Charlie Hunter Trio: Copperopolis (2006)

As impressive as Charlie Hunter's mastery of his eight-string guitar is, it may not be as strong a mark of distinction as his success in devising an original jazz-funk sound in a genre long ruled by guitarist John Scofield. Since arriving on the scene from San Francisco in the mid-'90s, Hunter has gotten stuck in a rut or two, but as efforts like Copperopolis demonstrate, he has the rare ability to renew his sound. Recorded in New Orleans, a setting reflected by an unlikely second line take on Thelonious Monk's "Think of One," the album may be his most appealingly varied. Hunter and his regular cohorts, tenor saxist John Ellis and drummer Derrek Phillips, thrive on the usual shimmering grooves and sonic embellishments, but with Ellis adding melodica and Wutrlitzer to his bop-fueled attack, they attain a lighter, more coloristic quality. And when Hunter forgoes the textural touches to lay into a blues riff, lean and mean, they rock harder than ever. It's thinking man's fusion music for listeners who want more instant gratification than they can get from the jam-band scene.
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1. Cueball Bobbin'... (7:06)
2. Frontman (5:39)
3. Swamba Redux (6:24)
4. Copperopolis (5:52)
5. Blue Sock (8:09)
6. The Pursuit Package (2:14)
7. A Street Fight Could Break Out (6:49)
8. Drop the Rock (6:26)
9. Think of One (5:20)
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