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The Charlie Hunter Trio Continues To Defy Guitar Convention At Higher Ground

Show Review: Charlie Hunter and Lucy Woodward at Higher Ground, Burlington, Vermont

From Glide Magazine
by Doug Collette

In the twenty years or so since Charlie Hunter began visiting Vermont, he’s placed his seven-and eight-string guitar playing in all manner of contexts—solo, duo, trio and quartet—but he’s never worked with a vocalist. In the Showcase Lounger of Higher Ground this night summer turned to fall, that patience proved more than worth the wait.

Lucy Woodward almost stole the show. And she might well have done so, wholly and completely, if her two bandmates had not demonstrated the same touch for nuance she did throughout the two sets. In turns insouciant and sultry, saucy and winsome, the woman was the aural/visual picture of well-practiced discipline wherein the notes she belted out on a Nina Simone song were as finely-phrased as those she breathed so softy on one from Teresa Brewer circa 1959, “Music! Music! Music! (Put Another Nickel In)”.

If the guitarist/frontman had not so obviously relished her participation, he might not have so keenly complemented Woodward’s performance by savoring the moments his fingers ran up and down his own instrument. But plucking those ringing harmonics, bending some bittersweet notes and dropping the low-register bombs were subtleties similar to the singer’s, but also to those that appeared in the percussion work of Keita Ogawa. And not just in the latter’s solos: the interval with his ‘Porkestra’–consisting of three squeezable piggie toys he turned into instruments even more arcane than those he utilized in his first turn in the spotlight—was arguably no more arresting than watching him accompany his bandmates on his unconventional kit.

 

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