Charlie Hunter life and biography

Charlie Hunter picture, image, poster

Charlie Hunter biography

Date of birth : 1967-05-23
Date of death : -
Birthplace : Berkeley, California, U.S.
Nationality : American
Category : Arts and Entertainment
Last modified : 2011-12-01
Credited as : guitarist, composer, Charlie Hunter Quartet

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Charlie Hunter is an American guitarist, composer and bandleader.As the "hip-hop" or "acid jazz" movement of the mid-1990s gained momentum in the United States, Charlie Hunter was leading it in the San Francisco Bay Area. Young groups of avant-garde jazz musicians were mixing traditional jazz with hip-hop, funk, and rock.

Hunter was the first out of the pack of groups of the area to be released on CD. "We study the past and practice the present," Hunter told Down Beat in 1994. That blend of past and present was what Hunter used to push several incarnations of his own bands, including his trio, quartet, and T.J. Kirk--a separate Hunter group altogether--through a number of successful releases and tours. His inventive use of a custom guitar earned him astute musicians as fans, and his talent for creating infectious hip-hop dance grooves made Hunter's live shows guaranteed good times for college crowds.

Hunter was raised in Berkeley, California, by his mother, who fixed instruments at Subway Guitar, a Berkeley guitar shop. He started playing electric guitar at 13, on an amp his mother made for him. At 14, he started taking lessons from now-famous guitarist Joe Satriani, a Subway instructor at the time. Satriani was demanding of Hunter, building in him the discipline that he lacked. The eclectic Bay Area environment also molded his musical talents. "Growing up in Berkeley, we were exposed to all kinds of music from the Dead Kennedys and Parliament/Funkadelic to Art Blakey," he explained to Down Beat . "As for my playing, Charlie Parker and John Coltrane are big influences. So are Stevie Wonder and old country blues players like Robert Johnson and Lightnin' Hopkins."

Hunter met Michael Franti, of the disbanded hip-hop group the Beatnigs, when Franti was working at Subway in 1991. Franti liked Hunter's developing style and so the guitarist joined Franti's new group, Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, as an accompaniment to Franti's raps. Hunter played on the Heroes' Hiphoprisy is the Greatest Luxury in 1992 and toured with them, most notably opening for Irish pop icons U2 and alternative-funk stars Primus. He left the band shortly before it dissolved completely and set out to create his own sound with his own musicians. "It wasnt what I wanted to do," Hunter told Guitar Player in 1994, the year after he left Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy. "It was great to see the world in that rock and roll environment, but it makes me realize how good I have it now, writing and playing what I want with musicians who can make me feel small every night."

If Charlie Hunter felt small every night when his played with his Charlie Hunter Trio, it didn't show. They recorded their first record, Charlie Hunter Trio , in Primus frontman Les Claypool's basement and released it in 1993 on Claypool's brand new Prawn Song label. Hunter garnered attention with the bassless trio by providing simultaneous bass lines, melodies, and chords as well as for his style that was more like that of an organist than a guitarist.

Hunter's hallmarks are his custom, guitar-bass hybrid Novak eight-string instrument and the way he uses it. He was into playing a seven-string guitar until a friend suggested he check out Larry Young's organ playing. Young played bass parts with his left hand and melodies and chords with his right. To Hunter, Young's style made sense and set him to design the instrument he became known for using. "The bottom three strings are tuned E, A, D, like the lower three strings on a bass," he explained to Guitar Player in 1995. " The top five are tuned A, D, G, B and E, as on guitar. I send the bass strings directly to a bass amp. The guitar strings go through a Korg G4 Leslie speaker simulator, a volume pedal, a wah, and then into the guitar amp." He does it all with his bare hands. "Picks are for kids," he told Guitar Player in the same article. "I don't mean to dis people who use a pick, but it doesn't work for me. Fingers are the way to go"

Hunter's singular style also caught the attention of legendary jazz label Blue Note, who signed him on the merit of his first release. He was simultaneously signed to Warner Brothers as part of T.J. Kirk--formerly known as James T. Kirk, until trademark concerns were raised by Star Trek producer Paramount. Fronted by three guitarists--Hunter, John Schott and Will Bernard--T.J. Kirk was as successful with its 1994 release T.J. Kirk and its subsequent tours as was Hunter's trio. "It's a total guitar nerd's fantasy band," Hunter told On the One in 1995 of T.J. Kirk.

In 1993, the Charlie Hunter Trio performed on the second stage at traveling alternative-rock fest Lollapalooza in San Francisco. For a group still new to the rock world, "it was scary," Hunter admitted to Guitar Player . But he also felt that his trio brought something to the festival that was new and different, yet easy for crowds to get into. "We put out hard-hitting energy, and people our age related to it because we related to them. And if they go out and buy a Charlie Parker or John Coltrane record after hearing us and realize how vital it is--not the de-clawed, sugar-factory stuff on mainstream jazz radio--that's great."

In 1995, Hunter was juggling his two major record deals, a new release, Bing, Bing, Bing , on Blue Note and still was arranging all his own shows. "20 gigs a month, ten phone calls a gig, work it out for yourself," he joked with On the One about his hectic schedule. Yet he still found time to record ReadySetShango! for Blue Note and If Four Was One with T.J. Kirk on Warner Brothers, both for 1996 release.

In 1997, Hunter, this time with the Charlie Hunter Quartet, got involved with the Blue Note Cover Series, reinterpreting Bob Marley's classic Natty Dread , alongside Everette Harp covering Marvin Gaye's What's Going On and Fareed Haque doing Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young's Deja Vu . Although the series wasn't reviewed favorably, Hunter declared his good intention on the Blue Note Website. "It's culturally the duty of the younger generation to help the music evolve" he said.

Hunter teamed up with drummer Scott Amendola, percussionist John Santos, and Blue Note vibraphonist Stefon Harris in 1998 for Return of the Candyman by Charlie Hunter and Pound for Pound. Hunter composed all the tracks on the release, save "Electric Relaxation," by Ronnie Foster. Critical reviews were lukewarm. Down Beat opined in a 1998 review that the CD "may satisfy his fans, but to someone not familiar with Hunter's music, it's fair to say his self-penned tunes hover somewhere between pop's idea of jazz and jazzy sketches at best." But despite the album's lack of critical praise, Hunter and the group toured for the release successfully.

In the summer of 2007, Charlie toured with a trio that included New York keyboardist Erik Deutsch and New York/New Orleans drummer Simon Lott. This trio recorded the July, 2007 Fantasy release Mistico. In 2008, Hunter recorded his first self-release, Baboon Strength. Featured on the record are Erik Deutch on keys and Tony Mason on drums. Hunter returned to the studio in Fall of 2009 to record with drummer Eric Kalb.

In 2008, eminent clarinetist and composer Ben Goldberg put together a project entitled "Go Home" with Charlie on guitar(s), Ron Miles (trumpet) and Scott Amendola (drums). The alternately funky, beautiful, spacious and deep compositions showcase all the musicians. The group performed at the Jazz Standard in New York from October 29 to November 1, 2009 with Curtis Fowlkes on trombone, replacing Miles on trumpet.

1993 - Charlie Hunter Trio - Prawn Song
1995 - Bing, Bing, Bing! - Blue Note
1996 - Ready, Set...Shango! - Blue Note
1997 - Natty Dread - Blue Note
1998 - Return of the Candyman - Blue Note
1998 - All Kooked Out! (Stanton Moore) - Fog City
1999 - Duo - Blue Note
1999 - Mysteryfunk (Garage a Trois) - Fog City
2000 - Voodoo (D'Angelo) – Cheeba Sound
2000 - Charlie Hunter - Blue Note
2000 - Solo Eight-String Guitar - Contra Punto
2001 - Songs from the Analog Playground - Blue Note
2003 - Emphasizer (Garage a Trois) - Tone-Cool
2003 - Right Now Move - Ropeadope
2003 - Come In Red Dog, This is Tango Leader (with Bobby Previte) - Ropeadope
2004 - Friends Seen and Unseen - Ropeadope
2004 - Latitude (Groundtruther) - Thirsty Ear
2005 - Steady Groovin' - Blue Note
2005 - Longitude (Groundtruther) - Thirsty Ear
2005 - Outre Mer (Garage a Trois) - Telarc
2005 - Earth Tones (with Chinna Smith and Ernest Ranglin) - Green Street
2006 - The Coalition of the Willing (Bobby Previte) - Ropeadope
2006 - Live at Tonic (Christian McBride) - Ropeadope
2006 - Copperopolis - Ropeadope
2007 - Mistico - Fantasy
2007 - Altitude (Groundtruther) - Thirsty Ear
2007 - Continuum (In Repair) - John Mayer
2008 - Baboon Strength - reapandsow
2008 - Fade - (Tim Collins featuring Charlie Hunter & Simon Lott) - Ropeadope
2009 - Go Home - (Ben Goldberg, Charlie Hunter, Scott Amendola & Ron Miles) - BAG Production
2009 - Gentlemen, I Neglected To Inform You You Will Not Be Getting Paid - Spire Artist Media / reapandsow
2010 - Public Domain -

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