What does it sound like?:
Charlie Hunter has built a reputation as a solo jazz guitarist with a unique sound and technique He simultaneously plays bass, lead and rhythm on a 7(and sometimes 8)-string guitar. On this album he plays a ‘Big 6’, that has the three lower strings of a bass, and the three middle of a guitar.
He has played with artists such as D’Angelo (Voodoo), Norah Jones and John Mayer, to name but a few.
Here he is teamed with UK-born/U.S.-raised singer Lucy Woodward, who can be described as ‘sultry’ to start with, but has an expressive jazz/blues style.
Coupled with drummer Derrek Phillips, they have produced an album that is minimal in places, but funky and driving in others. Anyone who caught them on the recent Snarky Puppy Tour will know what I mean.
This is almost like a “Julie Is Her Name” for the 2010s.
The album is all standards and covers, but each with it’s own reworked style/arrangement that surprises. An electrifying version of “Can’t Let Go” is nothing like the Lucinda Williams version, Terence Trent Darby’s “Wishing Well” is given an even funkier makeover, new life is breathed into 60s hit “Please Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood”, and the smooth stripped-down title track has a sultry (that word again) feel that is totally unexpected. I was prepared to hate this late-1940s Dixieland classic, but the slowed down interpretation has a sexiness that captivates. The Nina Simone song “Plain Gold Ring” is at the other end with a minimal arrangement that allows Woodward to enunciate and stretch her phrasing (but her homage to Simone is clear, as on “Be My Husband”).
What does it all *mean*?
This album came out nearly 8 months ago, but I only recently saw the duo (plus fab drummer Keita Agawa – another Snarky Puppy alumnus), and found myself wondering where the bass player was hidden. Hunter is well-known in Jazz circles, for his solo style with moving bass line (think funky Joe Pass). Woodward has a great voice. I’m sure that there are a host of other female jazz singers mining a similar vocal seam, but she is also a successful songwriter/composer and toured (and sang in multiple languages) with Pink Martini, for example.
The groove/soulfulness of this album should broaden its appeal beyond the jazz/blues world.
Goes well with…
Eric Gale (if you can find his albums), Peter Cincotti, Nu Yorican Soul
Might suit people who like…
Funk, Jazz, Blues, Julie London, Nina Simone.