Album Remarks & Appraisals:
Now with his 17th album, he returns to his quartet to perform 10 all-new Blues, Rock, Jazz and Latin-flavored songs alongside bandmates Kirk Knuffke (cornet), Bobby Previte (drums), and Curtis Fowlkes (trombone).
Recorded 100% live in a studio in Hudson, New York, Charlie performs his simultaneous bass, rhythm and solo magic on his custom 7-string electric guitar, proving once again that Charlie Hunter is the undisputed king of modern jazz guitar improvisation.
Personnel: Charlie Hunter (8-string guitar); Kirk Knuffke (cornet); Curtis Fowlkes (trombone); Bobby Previte (drums).
Charlie Hunter's Everybody Has a Plan Until They Get Punched in the Mouth is not only his first recording for a major label in nine years, but his first with a larger-than-trio-sized band since 2003. His personnel include drummer Bobby Previte, trombonist Curtis Fowlkes (who both played on 2015's Let the Bells Ring On and 2003's Right Now Move), and cornetist Kirk Knuffke. The album's title paraphrases a quote by former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson. It's a metaphorical reference to the contrast between an envisioned plan for living and the reality that transpires later.
Hunter saturates his approach in blues and vintage R&B here. To get the vibe right, the band recorded live in a Hudson, New York studio; there are no overdubs -- everybody walked the tightrope. First single "No Money, No Honey" opens with a guitar hammer on, but the band quickly establishes a funky Meters-esque vamp that gets inverted by knotty jazz syncopation. They all flow back to the groove with Previte holding the center. Hunter's solo signals a call-and-response with the brass, who play in Stax-like tandem and add individual fills in the turnarounds. The title track commences as a slow, steamy jazz-blues with gorgeous melodic flourishes, a fine solo from Fowlkes, and a front line that references Bobby Blue Bland, Quincy Jones, and Oliver Nelson. The slow stroll on Bill Broonzy's "Big Bill's Blues" contains a gorgeous early New Orleans jazz feel in the contrasting harmonic dialogue between Fowlkes and Knuffke (though they play the tags in unison), while Hunter's playing is pure mid-'50s Chicago. "Leave Him Lay" is a choogling 12-bar swagger with Hunter's fills stinging through the horn player's vamps. Previte signals various cadence and time shifts as Knuffke takes a languid solo that provides a nostalgic look at early jazz sans artifice. Second single "Latin for Travelers" (titled after Previte's band of the same name) is a sultry, jazzy blues based on a rhumba. There are subtle colors through the horns' harmonies that evoke brass inventions from Willie Colon, Eddie Palmieri, and Wardell Quezergue. Hunter's own break is sharp, in the pocket, and full of soul. The funky NOLA side returns during the intro to closer "The Guys Get Shirts," but doesn't stay there. Previte guides the group through Chicago blues, '20s jazz, and '50s and '60s R&B. The arrangements lock in, offering many twists and turns, but never leave the groove behind. This album is an excellent return to the majors for Hunter. All killer, no filler. ~ Thom Jurek
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