Charlie Hunter Introduces a New Trio With Let the Bells Ring On, a Program of Evocatively Greasy Originals Reuniting the 7-String Guitar Wizard with Longtime Collaborators Trombone Master Curtis Fowlkes and Drum Maestro Bobby Previte
Charlie Hunter, Curtis Fowlkes and Bobby Previte share a whole lot of history, but they’ve never recorded an album like Let the Bells Ring On. Gritty, greasy, and downright celebratory, the album features 10 original tunes by Hunter designed for the trio’s singular, deep-pocket sound. Hunter is releasing the album on CD on April 14, 2015 and vinyl on July 21, 2015 on his label Charlie Hunter Music.
Previte and Fowlkes, a charter member of the Lounge Lizards and the Jazz Passengers, were both essential participants on Downtown scene in the 1970s and have worked together in countless settings over the years. Hunter and Previte have toured and recorded together in various all-star cooperative ensembles, such as The Coalition of the Willing (with fellow renegades Steven Bernstein, Skerik, and Marco Benevento) and more recently Omaha Diner, the deconstructivist quartet with Bernstein and Skerik.
But their most extensive undertaking is the free improv project Groundtruther, a protean project that assumes a new form with each special guest (a list that encompasses more than three dozen players, including Greg Osby, John Medeski, DJ Olive, Peter Apfelbaum, Uri Caine, and Jane Ira Bloom). For Let the Bells Ring On, Hunter was looking to showcase a different side of Previte.
“He’s probably known as a composer more than anything else,” Hunter says. “But he’s always been one of my favorite drummers. He came up in the 1960s, and he has the beat. You have to have lived it to have that feel. Because of his composer’s mind, we can play the simplest groove and it becomes something really exciting and compositional.”
This trio can go anywhere. Exploring a variety of sonic spaces, the tunes range from the foreboding tension and release of “Anthem: USA” and the tautly cinematic “Fellini Farm Team” to the antic hoedown “Hillbilly Heroine Chic” and churchy waltz “Spence.”
After several years of focusing on his stripped-down duo with drummer Scott Amendola, Hunter wanted to expand his textural and orchestrational possibilities. He had called on Fowlkes for his 2003 quintet album Right Now Move (Ropeadope) and couldn’t resist his huge, soul-drenched sound and vivid palette for his new trio.
“Conceptually I’ve been doing a duo thing with Scott that I love, but I wanted to have that third voice,” Hunter says. “I wanted somebody with a vibe who understands free improv and Al Green and Frank Sinatra and Sam Cooke. I wanted someone who can sing on their horn. I needed Curtis.”