Perhaps conversely, however, Right
Now Move is the result of some very
focused artistry. After two days spent in
the studio getting the right sound and coaxing
glitchy equipment into proper behavior, the
album was recorded entirely on the last day
of a three-day session. Charlie's band, in
top form from months of touring, simply ran
down the tunes and nailed them. After a break
for dinner, the quintet went back into the
studio and put down the interludes. As a
consequence, Right Now Move is
a special kind of album: one full of the
innovation and vibrancy that can only be
caught on first takes.
For sure, the vitality of Right Now
Move has a lot to do with the five
musicians who play on it. Charlie's tandem
in the rythm section is drummer and fellow
Bay Area native Derek Philips, whose array
of grooves and percussionistic colors ignite
the band. In the unique horn lineup, trombonist
Curtis Fowlkes anchors the section with sublime
musicality. John Ellis, on tenor saxophone
and bass clarinet, plays both instruments
with gritty elegance. Darting and dancing
on top of it all is the chromatic harmonica
playing of Gregoire Maret. Charlie hand-picked
these musicians because of their individual
musical talents and the unique textures they
are able to create against his own singular
Right Now Move, his ninth
recorded album, represents a new Milestone
for Charlie. His journey started at the
age of 12, when he bought his first guitar
for $7. By age 16, after countless hours
of practicing and some earliy tutelage
under Berkely resident guitarist Joe
Satriani, Charlie knew music whas what
he would do with his life. While playing
both guitar and bass in various Bay Area
bands, Charlie developed a seven-string
hybrid instrument on which he could play
both parts at the same time. Later, in
1992, he designed a prototype of his
current 8-string guitar.
The fact that charlie plays an instrument
of his own invention is just one manifestation
of his unique musical concept. Charlie's
roots are in jazz music, drawing from
modern jazz harmony and organ players
like Jimmy Smith, Larry Young, and Big
John Patton. However, Charlie voraciously
listens to and studies music from withing
the States and around the globe, including
rock, funk, and soul, as well as the
music of Cuba, Central and South America,
and Africa. The inspiration that CHarlie
takes from these styles is so subtly
blended that the result can only be 100%
pure Charlie Hunter. As Charlie says, "I'm
really into coming up with and playing
different kinds of grooves ... I try
to distill all the music I love into
something that sounds organic and natural."
THAT A TAMBOURINE?
Just one example of Charlie's expansive study
is his pandeiro playing, featured on the
interludes of this album and in an amazing
segment of his recent live gigs.
"I've been playing it for a couple of
years now. Most people think it's just a
tambourine. But the pandeiro, which is the
national instrument of Brazil, is actually
a little different. It has a tunable head
and drier jingles, among other things. I
got a lot of my chops from checking out the
music of Marcus Suzano, who is an amazing
pandeiro player from Brazil. I just with
I had time to spend learning everything it
More practice time or not, there's no question
that Charlie has prodigious technical capability.
Apart from his 8-string guitar and pandeiro
playing, he was recently seen at the ropeadope
New Music Seminar grabbing a regular bass
and tearing through "Cissy Strut"
and "Back in Black." Charlie also
has a knack for unusual musical party tricks,
like reciting entire raps from memory and
performing a particular body percussion maneuver
that's like patty-cake gone mad.
"It comes from being a street musician,"
says Charlie. After several years of making
a living playing for people in both the Bay
Area and Europe, he says "The only way
to get by is by being able to do everything.
It has to be a show, like vaudeville."
As far as the human percussion thing, Charlie
deadpans, "Can't everyone do that?"
For all his virtuousity, Charlie doesn't
set out to make music for the purpose of
impressing other musicians. Nor does he try
to manufacture music for the impressionable
masses. "Part of my theory about music
is that too much of today's popular music
has become two-dimensional. The corporate
middleman forces artists into making music
that's 2D - it's flat. It used to be that
A and R people would find pop artists like
Diana Ross and Marvin Gaye, who might be
attractive or beautiful, but they were also
extremely talented and musical. Now, the
corporate structure forces artists into an
artifical mold design for mass consumption.
And the product doesn't end up communicating
very deeply to people. I want my music to
be 3D, reflective of the reality we live
in, something for real people to relate to
who live in a real community. Real people
have to get up and go to work in the morning.
I want my music to speak to them and make
their lives better as a result."
NOW MOVE AND THE PROPHET
With his new release, Charlie is telling
real life how to Right Now Move.
"Curtis came up with the name,"
Charlie explains. "He has one of those
tapes that circulates among musicians, you
know, with things like a surreptitious recording
of BUddy RIch berating his band, or Ray Charles'
guitar player freaking out onstage. Another
thing on there was a radio commercial done
by this cult radio preacher from the south
named Prophet Omega. It was a commercial
for a moving company that would do any kind
of move: a move coming up in a couple of
weeks, a move that needed to happen by tomorrow,
and even a 'Right Now Move.'
We liked that particular phrase, which seemed
to be applicable in all kinds of different
contexts, so we named the album after it."
Tata When I was with my band in
San Paolo, Brazil, we went to a music
shop to look for pandeiros and other
instruments. Like all music shops,
this one had a bulletin board with
things posted on it. There was an ad
for someone named Mestre Tata (Mestre
means "Master" in Portueguese)
who taught Brazilian percussion instruments.
The crazy hting was, the list of instruments
that he taught was so long, it wouldn't
fit on one piece of paper. So he had
a second page attached with the rest
of the instruments listed on it. We
"We have to check this guy out."
So we asked the owner of the shop and he
told us that Mestre Tata was right upstairs!
So we went up to his studio and had an
hour-long percussion lession with this
60 year-old percussion master. This song
was inspired by that experience
whipped this one up just before the recording
session. When I brought it in, the guys
looked it over, we hit record, and they
nailed it. It's a tribute to the East
Bay Area, where I grew up. We don't play
this kind of slow, simple funk - I call
it "dumb-dumb funk"
- very often, because it's so hard to
pull off. But Derrick knows how to play
this stuff the right way, because he's
is a style of Cuban street music that
I'm really into. The melody of this tune
is reminiscent of something you would
play on a stringed instrument from that
idiom called the tres. The rest of the
tune evolved from that into something
different. Try When
I went out on the road with Fred Wesley
and Mike Clark, they wanted to play "Doin'
it to Death" a lot. From that came
this song, my tribute to Fred Wesley.
name says it all. It's a high-octane
Charlie groove, with wing feel on the
cymbal and funk on the bass drum and
snare. Musically it sounds a lot better
than the description.
recorded a bunch of these interludes.
I just played some different grooves
on the pandeiro and the horns came up
with something spontaneous on top of
each one. Those guys killed it. We did
a lot of them too - there are a lot more
that didn't make the record.
in the Water I have all these old
gospel recordings and when I heard
this tune on one of them, I really
liked it and wanted to do my own version
of it. I think it came out pretty good.
Congress This tune started out
as kind of a Robert Walter tribute
and then it morphed into something
originally did this one as a vocal arrangement
on Notes from the Underground. But after
doing it as an instrumental with the
three horns, I realized that this was
the way it was supposed to be played
Fest When I played with Stephen
Chopek and Chris Lovejoy, we used to
play a groove that they called "Freak
LaAter I made up a tune with that groove,
and here I recorded it with the new band.
piece started out a tribute to the music
of Mali - specifically, people like vocalist
Oumou Sangare, and musician Neba Solo.
But then, my jazz harmony concept reared
its ugly head and changed this piece
into an entirely different thing. It's
really a vehicle for Greg.
Bateau Ivre The name of this song
comes from the title of a poem by French
Poet Arthur Rimbaud. I liked the sound
of the title (which means "The
Drunken Boat") and I thought this
tune sounded like that: Just a goofy
little tune that bobs along.