Hunter's disc offers clever playing, wordplay
‘Not Getting Behind is the New Getting Ahead'
Charlie Hunter and Scott Amendola (CharlieHunterMusic)
In the same way Hammond B-3 organists create a bass sound with their pedals that creates a duo, guitarist Charlie Hunter and drummer Scott Amendola become a two-man trio on “Not Getting Behind is the New Getting Ahead.” The album is a bluesy look at jazz in a very basic duo setting. It is the product of Hunter's rock-jazz-blues approach to guitar, which, of course, is broadened by his two bass strings. With the exception of the faster title track and “Economy With Dignity,” the songs don't vary much from their mid-tempo nature, but Hunter's playing is so clever melodically and tonally, the album has a rather compelling honesty. It also has some great titles: “Assessing the Assessors, An Assessor's Assessment,” “The Wizard Pounds the Pavement” and “Those Desks Aren't Going to Clean Themselves.”
— Bob Karlovits
Anat Cohen (Anzic)
Offering a variety of tones and shades on clarinet, Anat Cohen does indeed create something that could be called “Claroscuro.” Rapidly turning into one of the best clarinetists in jazz, Cohen offers originals, a gently drifting version of “La Vie en Rose,” Artie Shaw's “Nightmare” and a great version of “Um a Zero” from Brazil's famed Pixinguinha. On the latter and on three other numbers, she is joined by Paquito D'Rivera, who rivals her clarinet stardom. But it says quite a bit about Cohen's playing when it stands so far above his work. On “Kick Off,” Cohen plays bass clarinet as D'Rivera joins her on the higher-pitched woodwind. She plays tenor and soprano saxes on the album, too, but her work on clarinet stands out, which is normally the case. It is no surprise she took the top spot on this year's Downbeat magazine critic's poll. Trombonist Wycliffe Gordon joins the band for two tracks on this well-done album. The album is available Tuesday.
— Bob Karlovits