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Charlie Hunter Trio
Copperopolis
Ropeadope Records
www.charliehunter.com


A word of caution for those considering the latest offering by The Charlie Hunter Trio - if you prefer tidy three-minute, three-chord pop music, this isn't the album for you. Copperopolis is a nine-track, fifty-four-minute odyssey into jazz fusion, incorporating rock, funk, blues, and jazz elements in unique instrumentals. Copperopolis finds Hunter and cohorts Derrek Phillips and John Ellis focusing on the interaction between instruments and sounds - at times, using euphonious call and response; at others, intertwining melodic instruments (usually Hunter's electric 8-string and Ellis's saxophone) so that they become indistinguishable from one another. Copperopolis is a study in musical moods - both rollicking and haunting, joyous and ominous.

Copperopolis begins with the rousing jazz-funk boogie, "Cueball Bobbin" - a seven-minute instrumental with blues-inspired distorted guitar riffs, swinging keyboards, and tenor sax over an intricate rock rhythm. "Frontman," by contrast, is a mellow jazz ballad replete with tender, wailing guitar, moody keyboards, and echoing jazz drums - each instrument going on a seemingly separate, yet unified musical journey. "Swamba Redux" has a moseying funk rhythm that is at odds with Hunter's ominous reverberating guitar (which at times sounds like an electric organ, rather than an 8-string guitar) and Ellis's wailing, rather sinister, blues-inspired horn solos. Halfway through, drummer Phillips picks up the rhythm to add even greater contrast.

The title track is a six-minute jazzy drum, saxophone and electric guitar ballad with a haunting intro and a menacing tone. Here, Hunter and Ellis engage in musical mimicry with guitar and saxophone, respectively - musically synchronized, at first; then, dueling for a while before allowing the structure to unravel and make way for two separate melodies. "Copperopolis" is easily the album's centerpiece, as well as its musical highlight.

"Blue Sock" is a mellow jazz-blues song where once again Hunter and Ellis intertwine guitar and sax before offering complimentary musical adventures, while "The Pursuit Package" is a funky two-minute blues song with wailing guitar and a bass-heavy drum groove that changes pace continually, flourishes and fades out, before disintegrating into only Phillips's rock rhythm. Suddenly, "The Pursuit Package" gives way to "A Street Fight Could Break Out" - a mellow '70s-inspired blues-rock ballad that grooves along like a summer day.

Copperopolis closes with two quite sonically disparate songs - the slow-moving, portentous odyssey "Drop The Rock" and the old school funk- and blues-infused "Think Of One." The latter features a jazzy dance rhythm and finds Hunter and company breaking for drum and sax solos as well as melding all instruments into a mellifluous whole as in other songs.

Copperopolis is a hip musical journey - at times, baleful; at times, playful; always musically irresistible - that offers the best of jazz, funk, rock, and blues.

-Tracy M. Rogers

Track List:
1.Cueball Bobbin'
2. Frontman
3. Swamba Redux
4. Copperopolis
5. Blue Sock
6. The Pursuit Package
7. A Street Fight Could Break Out
8. Drop The Rock
9. Think Of One


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