Charlie Hunter Music
Charlie Hunter (8-string guitar) and Scott Amendola (drums/percussion) have been making music together in duo-form and various band configurations for years, moving away from the record label and album/tour stranglehold to create music on their own terms – under their own names (sometimes Amendola’s name gets top billing, sometimes Charlie’s name is first) they’ve made some amazing music together. Hunter’s unique approach (supplying the bass lines and melody, all at once) means he’s created his versions of plenty of great songs over the years, as well as writing original material. Many people remember his Nirvana cover from back in the 1990s, there was a track-by-track recreation of Bob Marley’s Natty Dread, and the band TJ Kirk (Hunter and two other guitarists with Amendola on drums) created funked-up covers of music by Thelonious Monk, James Brown and Rahsaan Roland Kirk.
So this collection of EPs is an album-length project made up of four separate five-song EPs. Here Hunter and Amendola blend country and jazz together – in that way that Bill Frisell has – as they tackle standards from Duke Ellington and Cole Porter, from Hank Williams and, er, The Cars.
A song like I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry, Move It On Over or Cold Cold Heart gets taken for a nice, slow, loping Sunday drive. Improvisation fleshes out the feel, a subtle funk within the groove – but faithfully recognisable. Elsewhere with The Cars’ material you might barely recognise Good Times Roll or Let’s Go – but the retooled rockabilly of Candy O allows it to sit nicely with the Hank songs.
Ellington’s Mood Indigo is rocked-up, Cole Porter’s Miss Otis Regrets is given the feel that Hunter borrowed has borrowed from the Tennessee Waltz, a little nod to Les Paul of course, and then made his own.
What’s wonderful here – as with other recent releases from this pair – is that they’re making music for themselves. Giving access – via website orders – to their fans, catering to a small, pleased bunch – never trying to do all things for all people.
You hear the joy in the playing – the idea of constantly being able to create and recreate, passion so obviously their vital ingredient, the constant tool. And with this collection of EPs you see that constant collaboration is unearthing new ways to approach tunes, making standards of modern pop songs, turning old standards on their ear – giving them a new life for fresh ears.
This is what music-making should be about.