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
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
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
3. Swamba Redux
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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