Charlie Hunter and Dionne Farris have planned to work with each other since they met on a Hip Hop tour working for two different groups in 1991. The inspiration for this project came in part from a mutual admiration for Dionne’s namesake, and an instant musical chemistry.
Charlie would play his guitar at soundchecks and Dionne would improvise vocally. Those special moments confirmed that a recording session would bear fruit. Dionne and Charlie both signed major recording contracts and schedules would not permit for them to collaborate during their individual promotional campaigns.
Through social media in 2012, Dionne and Charlie reconnected and got reacquainted. Charlie was on tour for his latest release, Not Getting Behind Is the New Getting Ahead and Dionne attended the concert in Atlanta. While catching up, Charlie shared his great experiences of releasing new music through PledgeMusic. Dionne was in the early stages of planning crowdsourcing avenues for Dionne Get Your Gunn and chose Pledge Music after hearing of Charlie’s success. Her project was funded and she has been touring with Russell Gunn throughout the U.S. since its release.
Hunter plays a custom bass/guitar hybrid instrument which feeds it’s signal into separate amplifiers. He helped innovate it in the 1990s, allowing him to hold down the high and low ends using an athletic fingerstyle technique all his own.
Farris brings her one of a kind vocal stylings, uncanny intonation and precise pitch accuracy to the duo. She compares singing jazz with an accompanist to the classic ice breaker exercise “the trust fall”. She feels Charlie has the ability to find and catch her regardless of where she may decide to land musically.
The time has come for the long awaited collaboration for Charlie and Dionne.
They have selected the songs written by Burt Bacharach & Hal David, Isaac Hayes, and Holland-Dozier-Holland; some of the most celebrated songwriters in the modern recording era.
Over the next four months Hunter and Amendola are releasing four 5-track EPs, each focusing on the music of a particular artist or act. The project opens with ingenious distillations of Duke Ellington/Billy Strayhorn gems such as “Rockin’ In Rhythm,” “Daydream” and “Mood Indigo.” From Cole Porter’s songbook, they interpret standards, including “Too Darn Hot,” “Every Time We Say Goodbye” and “Anything Goes.”
Country music and jazz are often cast as antithetical styles, but the truth is far more complicated. For Hunter and Amendola, a great song is simply a great song, and they find plenty of grist for improvisation in Hank Williams’ classics like “Cold Cold Heart,” and “Ramblin’ Man.” They find fertile ground even further afield from typical jazz fare in the music of new wave rockers The Cars, digging into hits like “Candy-O,” and “Let’s Go.”
“The idea is to do these four and see how people respond,” Hunter says. “We started thinking why do we keep making 10-song CDs. I don’t necessarily want to do 10 Hank Williams songs, but five can work well. As long as the song is good we can put it through the mill, like what we did with T.J. Kirk and the Bob Marley album I made.” Check it all out in Charlie's Offiical Store!
NEW VINYL RELEASES!
Charlie has been pressing some of his earlier records on limited edition vinyl! The latest release is 'Gentlemen, I Neglected to Inform You, You Will Not Be Getting Paid'! All vinyl includes a free download of the entire record and we have some special bundle deals. Check it all out in Charlie's Offiical Store!
PODCAST SERIES: COMPARED TO WHAT
Sit down and relax, get comfortable and tune in to 'Compared To What' a new podcast by Charlie Hunter and Adam Dorn (aka Mocean Worker). “This was Charlie’s idea so blame him!” says co-host Dorn. "We wanted to create a conversation show. Some folks might think this is an interview show but really we just sit down with people that we really admire and get more of a sense of who they are and why they do what they do. Is it a music show? Not really. It’s just conversations about life in America seen through the eyes of creative Americans and Americants." Includes conversations with Les McCann, Nels Cline, Mike Clark and other. Tune in!
“After 20 years of constant writing I figured it was time to take a break and explore the guitar again,” Hunter says. “I told Scott, if you’ve got enough music together we could make a record of your tunes. What I like is that it really fits right into what we’ve been doing all along, simple music with a lot of space. Scott’s not burdened by trying to be jazzy. He’s a drummer who’s really listening to everything with big ears. He was already driving the bus."
"I think the duo setting works so well because we meet in the middle, and there’s such a wide range of things we can call on. What I love about Scott is that I know he’s not going to play the obvious things when I call on something, and I know it’s going to groove.
OMAHA DINER Omaha Diner is Charlie Hunter (seven-string guitar), Skerik (saxophone), Steven Bernstein (trumpet) and Bobby Previte (drums).
"If it didn't get to number one, we don't play it." That's right! They only play songs that made it to #1 in the Billboard charts, but reconstructed by The Diner.
HUNTER / SCOTT AMENDOLA SHOW REVIEW Check
out this fine review by
News of Charlie and Scott's show
at Duende in Oakland, CA on December 13th,
GUITAR INTERVIEW Tune
in Friday and Saturday night, December
14th and 15th to ShowGo.tv where
they will be streaming video of both
of Charlie's shows at The Mint in Los
Angeles, CA. The show should start
around 9pm pst.
Also while on tour, Charlie Hunter stopped
into Premier Guitar headquarters to talk
about the blues and play some tunes.
HUNTER | SCOTT AMENDOLA
Not Getting Behind Is The New Getting Ahead OUT NOW: CD | VINYL | DOWNLOAD
"Scott Amendola and I went into Brooklyn Recording
in May. We recorded our new duo record ‘Not Getting Behind Is The New
Getting Ahead’ straight to 1/2 inch 15 ips tape. No headphones were
used, and our main man Dave McNair mixed as we played. Old school…"
"Our intention in making this record was to tell a bunch of stories around
the central theme of the album’s title,” says Hunter. "The
new tunes are meant to evoke some of the things you might see in your travels
through the USA these days. Scott and I wanted to think of each composition
as a starting point for some kind of narrative."
of the best elements of this new album is that we didn't use any headphones," adds
Amendola. "We could hear everything naturally and acoustically. No mixing
and no fixing, straight to ¼-inch tape. It sounds incredible. My drums
haven't sounded this good ever. Everything sounded just as you were naturally
studio engineer Dave McNair comments, “Dynamic subtlety
is not very common on most modern records, but I wanted to present that to
the listener in a way that makes you feel like you are sitting in front of
the musicians. I think we succeeded. All of the songs were recorded live
to two track analog tape, no overdubs, no editing. Just 100% live groove
and vibe, no added artificial ingredients, and no mixing. There are not a
lot of musicians that can pull it off this way, but Charlie and Scott are
not only up to it, they THRIVE in that environment!”
HUNTER | SCOTT AMENDOLA
New Album & Vinyl
Amendola and I went into Brooklyn Recording in
May. We recorded our new duo record ‘Not
Getting Behind Is The New Getting Ahead’ straight
to 1/2 inch 15 ips tape. No headphones were used,
and our main man Dave McNair mixed as we played.
Old school…Except for the fact that it’ll be
released as a cd and digital download but no
Vinyl….What?! you go through all that and no
That’s where you come in. We’d love to be able to put this thing out on heavy
duty 180 gram vinyl. What do you say? I might even get my mom’s old turntable
repaired just to play it.
— Charlie GET
ANGELES TIMES INTERVIEW
Guitarist Charlie Hunter talks 'jam bands,'
jazz and going it alone After
nearly 20 years of recording, it’s remarkable
how much ground Charlie Hunter has covered.
Rising out of the Bay Area jazz scene with
a freakish virtuosity on a custom eight-string
guitar that allowed him to play bass and melody
lines simultaneously, Hunter performed at Lollapalooza
in 1993 and released the first of six albums
for Blue Note in 1995. Since then he’s
recorded with musicians that include drummer
Leon Parker, vibraphonist Stefon Harris and
Norah Jones, who sang on two tracks for Hunter’s
2001 album “Songs From the Analog Playground.”
Often lumped in with the
so-called “jam band” crowd after
earning a following on the festival circuit,
Hunter’s music isn’t so easy
to pigeonhole. Having touched on elements
of soul-jazz, reggae and boisterous funk-rock
in the past, Hunter recently set aside electronics
for a cleaner tone well-suited for a 2010
solo album of classic covers chosen by his
100-year-old grandfather aptly called “Public
This weekend Hunter comes
to the Mint for two nights with drummer Scott
Amendola, who’s played with Hunter
since the ’90s. Keep reading for Hunter’s
thoughts on moving beyond the jam-band scene,
his ambivalence toward being labeled a jazz
artist and the benefits of going it alone
in today’s music industry.
After you first came up in the '90s
it seemed like you were part this mini-movement
that brought new life into jazz around the
so-called “jam band” scene.
Is that how it felt for you at the time?
I feel like we were more
on the fringe of that world. I mean, it was
certainly economically helpful at times,
that’s for sure. Because you get into
a situation where there’s very few
outlets for your music, and you’ve
got to go to the outlets that are going to
help you make a living … I certainly
hope my music is in no way, shape or form
influenced by anything that would be known
as a jam band. If it is, then I’m going
to do something else. (laughs)
It doesn’t matter
to me because you don’t really get
to choose the era you live in and you do
not get to choose the marketplace within
which you have to function. I don’t
enjoy that world very much — and I
know it’d be smarter if I did because
that’s where all the money is — but
I’d rather play a really intimate show
for 50 people and really feel like I did
something that was a quality experience for
everybody involved rather than one of those
giant shows and you’re playing at excruciatingly
loud volume levels.... There just comes a
point where you reach a certain age and can
no longer be a part of that. I understand
the importance of it, and I’m totally
for it for anyone who can deal with it. But
it’s not for me, I’ve proven
that I can’t do that.
For years there
was always that debate of what constituted
jazz music or a jazz artist. Did that ever
come up with you, whether you "fit in" as
a jazz musician?
Well, maybe so. I think
when I was younger I let that get to me,
but the fact of the matter is jazz really
stopped when Louis Armstrong switched from
cornet to trumpet. I’d have to be in
a time machine to really be a "jazz musician," right?
I’ve spent -- and
spend -- countless hours sitting with those
recordings and learning as much as I can,
and I have an affinity for that music. And
hopefully in some form in the time that I’m
living I can do that music some kind of justice.
But generally I think that whole concept
of whatever you want to call "jazz" . . .
I don’t know of too many musicians
who think in those terms.
Unless you’re Wynton
Marsalis, who I think is brilliant and definitely
managed to decide what [jazz] is and the
parameters within which you have to function
to be considered a jazz musician. And I think
he's right, I would definitely agree with
him. My whole issue is I want to try and
make a living music that comes from what
[Wynton] is doing. I would much rather listen
to him play and do what he does than a guy
who's my age or younger who's really earnestly "trying
to be a jazz musician."
You're on a seven-string
guitar now, and as you came up that was
your thing: You were the guy who could
play the bass and guitar at the same time.
After so many years has that ever felt
That's an interesting question.
. . Isn't this whole creative music thing
partly making your own sound? And doesn't
that mean learning all that's happened before
you and using that as a toolbox to move into
something that's more of an honest expression
of your humanity? I feel like it's been a
lot more work than it would've been if I
had just played a guitar and a bass and just
went from there. But I wouldn't trade it
for anything. It actually simplifies things,
and [allows me to] be more direct. And less
desperate (laughs). Because there's really
nothing more desperate than a guitar player
playing a lot of notes.
You've been self-releasing
albums since 2008. What inspired you to
go that route?
Well, it wouldn't make any
sense for me to do anything else. If you
had a record company, why would you give
me any money to sell so few records? Whereas
I can make a record really inexpensively
that sounds really good, and I can sell enough
CDs to be able to make the next record. So
it just made sense.
because for a long time you were on Blue
Yeah, but that was
a different day. There still was a record
industry and that whole way of doing business.
Scott and I were talking about that, we
were on Conan O'Brien, and we toured opening
for Tracy Chapman and we did a million
of these really high profile things and
everyone was going, "Oh man, next week
you’re going to SoundScan 10,000
records, you’re going to do this,
you’re going to do that." And I'm
just like, no matter how accessible we
think what we do is, it's really not. It's
going to be inaccessible to 90% of the
public, so don’t even bother trying
to reach them. They'll find you if they
need to. Let's worry about the 10% -- and
there’s a lot of people in that 10%.
Worry about trying to find them, and you'll
find those people.
INTERVIEW AT JAZZ NETWORK WORLDWIDE
out this great informative
interview with Charlie Hunter from the Jazz
Standard in New York City. Hear Charlie talk
about his experience with major labels, indie
labels, and going fully independent, his view
on fan recordings and free tape trading, and
how he came to record his latest release 'Public
Friday March 4, the Charlie Hunter Trio was
streamed live from the Telluride Jazz Festival
in Telluride. He was joined by Eric Kalb (Sharon
Jones and the Dap Kings and John Scofield)
on drums and longtime Charlie Hunter collaborator
John Ellis on saxophone, bass clarinet and
REVIEW: BURLINGTON, VT 4/24/11 Read
a great review of Charlie's
show at the famous Nectar's
Club on Main Street in Burlington
Vermont. Read it at AllAboutJazz!
WORLD CAFE: CHARLIE HUNTER IN CONCERT
into prominence in the early 1990s, Charlie
Hunter is both incredibly swift with technique
and open to the spontaneity of improvisation.
Piecing together songs with his custom-made
seven- and eight-string guitars, bass and drums,
his songs are calculated and full of genuine
to the Entire Concert Here
'PUBLIC DOMAIN' REVIEW
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...Read
the Full Review Here
MAG 'PUBLIC DOMAIN' REVIEW
it the gramophone approach. The physical disc
of Charlie Hunter's second solo guitar album
has the resonance of a shellac 78, even allowing
its needle-riding grooves to be discernible
to the touch. This packaging parallels the
ancient material the perpetually modern improviser
essays this time 'round. Curated by Hunter's
99-year-old grandfather, Public Domain is
a yesteryear romp that accounts for 1920s foxtrots,
Al Jolson nuggets and nods to an era when the
Ziegfeld Follies ruled the entertainment roost...Read
the Full Review Here
INTERVIEW AND Q & A WITH CHARLIE HUNTER
Charlie sat down before his show at the
Freight & Salvage in Berkeley, California
on May 13th for an interview and to answer
questions from the audience. Learn about
Charlie's early years growing up in Berkeley,
in Europe has affected his playing, and
what lead Charlie to moving from the 8-string
to the 7-string guitar. Watch
APPEARANCE: CHARLIE HUNTER HAS 'NEGLECTED
TO INFORM YOU.' Charlie
Hunter's new album is curiously titled 'Gentlemen,
I Neglected To Inform You You Will Not Be Getting
Paid.' "Well, it's a
quote from a real, older, curmudgeonly musician
that people have worked for," Hunter says. "And
I cannot name names, but it really did happen.
It really does happen; let me put it that way."
Not that he would ever spring the same surprise
on any of his bandmates."No way, no way,
no way," Hunter says. "I tell them exactly
how little money they'll be getting paid
He joined host Liane Hansen
to talk about recording in monaural sound,
answer some listeners' questions and discuss
his unusual seven-string guitar, which allows
him to play bass lines and guitar riffs at
TO THE INTERVIEW HERE!