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Charlie Hunter Trio

Copperopolis (Ropeadope)

For Copperopolis, Charlie Hunter, accustomed to switching personnel from album to album, sticks with the same jam-oriented jazz trio heard on 2004's Friends Seen and Unseen, a subsidiary of the quintet from the previous year's Right Now Move, his last of six discs for Blue Note. Hunter plays guitar and bass simultaneously on his hybrid eight-string instrument (once viewed as a gimmick but now accepted as the thing he does) while drummer Derrek Phillips provides the seriously funky backbeat and John Ellis brings tenor sax, organ, and other instruments to the mix. The three groove and rock even harder this time out, with Hunter cranking up the overdrive on the opening "Cueball Bobbin'," built on a bluesy Hendrixesque guitar slam attached to a slippery unison line. Copperopolis, recorded in New Orleans about four months before Katrina wreaked havoc, documents a band of many moods: "Frontman," with its fuzzy guitar, vintage electric piano, and loose-limb beat, sounds like it could be an instrumental track from a retro-progressive modern rock outfit, while "Swamba Redux," with its searching melodica and second-line rhythms, feels like an organic blend of Brazilian and Crescent City musical traditions. And for the jazzers, there's a bouncy take on Monk's "Think of One."

 
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