January 13, 2011

CD Review: Charlie Hunter: Public Domain
by Ely Delman

In an age when access to music is a question of when and how—not if—we are presented with a throwback: an album of songs that are all part of the public domain. All of the songs included on Public Domain were written during the first half of the 1900s and selected for inclusion on the album by guitarist Charlie Hunter’s grandfather, Sidney Greenman. Hunter plays a hybrid seven-string axe, combining multiple bass and guitar strings. Yes, it’s extraordinary musicianship, but it’s not a gimmick. Here, he plays without accompaniment and the song construction and phrasing are always unforced. “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” swings with anachronistic funk—muted notes and staccato bass patterns—while a one-man train gives life to “Low Bridge Song.” Moreover, Hunter’s sense of melody brings every tune to contemporary life.




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