Charlie Hunter’s seven-string guitar is at the root of his jazz innovation. But just as he has charteded new ground in instrumentation, he has allowed his sound to infiltrate a cross-section of genres. Baboon Strength continues an urban path, a soundtrack for the concrete jungle.
Skittering guitar and a siren wail open “Athens,” a funk groove seen from deep in the metropolis that struts with increasing confidence, the vibrant walk-throughs chain-linked to a joyous reprise that’s powered by Erik Deutcsh (keyboards) and Tony Mason (drums). “Astronaut Love Triangle” continues with a hefty beat and organ wail. But Baboon Strength’s bright lights and bouncing grooves become uneven, fading over the course of the nine tracks. The album’s energy is fleeting on the second half of the album, “A Son for Karen Carpenter” crawling to a concentrated guitar melody and plodding rhythm. The shrinking sounds arrive at a soft glow on the set closing “AbadabA,” the final stop of thematic groove tour.
Charlie Hunter has had a lustrous career born of acute skill and an open mind. Baboon Strength is another notable glimpse into the guitarist’s world, and while the environment isn’t a utopia, it is a fine place to spend a little time.
Baboon Strength is out now on Reapandsow Inc.