Charlie Hunter

Steady Groovin'

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Charlie Hunter turned in his last album for Blue Note, Songs From the Analog Playground in 2001 before moving over to Ropeadope. Several years down the line, the time seemed right for Blue Note to reinvigorate sales with Steady Groovin', a collection taken from Hunter's seven albums recorded for the label. With no real "hits" to speak of, the task simply became one of highlighting Hunter's phenomenal playing in the variety of settings he's recorded in, from a duo setting to a seven-piece band. While the choices may be arbitrary, compilation producer Eliott Wolf has done a fine job of selecting tunes that fit the title bill. He also wisely stayed away from the collaborative elements of Songs From the Analog Playground, where a number of vocalists joined the band, thereby keeping the focus squarely on Hunter. The non-chronological sequencing was a good choice, too: Steady Groovin' plays like an album, not just a collection of tunes, despite the changing lineups on nearly every track. Charlie Hunter is the undisputed king of the eight-string guitar, maintaining funky basslines while simultaneously playing leads or comping, and his technique is mind-boggling. But Hunter is about much more than technique: he's an agile improviser with an ear for great tone, and always has excellent players alongside him in order to make great music, not to show off. Steady Groovin' makes for an excellent introduction to the music of Charlie Hunter, but will probably just whet the appetite for more.

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