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Steve Hunter: Nine Lives
2000, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 7243 527522 2 5

Nine Lives is a catty jazz extravaganza from Australian bassist Steve Hunter and company. Hunter's arrangements are as cool as a feline navigating the catwalk of progressive jazz tonality. Hunter's ensemble is a classic mix of brass, guitar, bass, percussions, and other various tactful instrumentation. The arrangements are rooted in jazz classics as well, with tonality and instrumental texturing strongly influenced by classic Miles Davis style abstract jazz and later fusion artists. Many of the abstract-style arrangements have a subduing looseness to them that provides a ethereal backdrop that the exploratory lines float upon with paradoxical precision. And this intangible, evasive precision of feeling in the articulation of the abtract harmonies is the exact quality that defines the artistic style that the ensemble deftly crafts. The ensemble conveys their obvious grasp on this complex form of abstract harmonization and tonality with profound impact that leaves the listener with a crystalline perception of the forces of timing, feel, and harmony that make the tenuous arrangements work so well. The craft that the ensemble demonstrates over these untrainable skills is distinctly impressive.

The ensemble then loosens up the format in the later tracks that evolve to a fusion format that features the fretwork of Hunter on bass and Steve McKenna on the guitar. There is an unending tradeoff between the various instruments that provides a great variation to the sonic texture and that keeps the music interesting. The group covers a lot of territory in their arrangements that are demonstrative of their impressive scope in jazz.

Fans of classic, abstract jazz in a big ensemble format should check out this CD from Steve Hunter. Hunter forges a digestible balance between 20th century, abstract tonality, meters, and coherent compositional arranagements with a fusion twist.

Trumpet Phil Slater
Tenor Sax, Bass Clarinet Paul Cutlan
Soprano Sax, Flute Ken James
Soprano Sax Dave Theak
Piano, Rhodes Piano, Melodica Matt McMahon
Guitar Steve McKenna
Tuba Carolyn Johns
Trombone Lucian McGuiness
Bass / Compositions Steve Hunter
Drums & Percussions Toby Hall, Fabian Hevia
1) Reason
2) Habitat
3) Lay Awake
4) Truth Is
5) Bianca Rosa
6) So to Speak
7) There You Are
8) Blue Intro / Big Louie
9) Old Souls
10) People on Foot

~ Christopher Ruel ~ ~ ~ Chris Ruel's Monthly Spotlight

Steve Hunter: Night People
1994, Tall Poppies, TP059

Steve Hunter has compiled an impressive solo bass effort on Night People. Hunter creates an amazing texture with the combination of bass lines, chordal phrasings and rhythms, and superimposed melody lines. This combination of voicing and textures that he projects will leave listeners questioning whether he has actually used bass for all of the voices deployed. But, rest assured because despite the illusion that there are three different instruments playing simultaneously at times, Hunter has accomplished it all on the five string bass.

Besides the technical marvel of what Hunter has accomplished for solo bass guitar, he has also put together some tasty arrangements that demonstrate his skill in the craft of musical composition. The form is an interesting combination of classically-influenced, 20th century, and jazz styles. Hunter does not sit idle in stagnate modes, simple harmonization, or repetitive motives, but instead puts a great effort into the exploration of all of these facets of his music. And, this is how he manages to keep an entire album of solo bass interesting.

Fans of bass guitar and solo bass will want to check out this CD from Steve Hunter. But, don't go by my appraisal. This is the CD that Chick Corea called "...a wonderful album of solo bass - very artful and melodic."

Bass Steve Hunter
1) Night People
2) Sometime in Iberia
3) Aphro Moon
4) Crystal Silence
5) Conference of the Birds
6) Revenimus
7) Hindsight
Four Poems
-8) Watersign
-9) Pastoral
-10) Armando
-11) Mary
12) Let's Look
13) Dark Swan
14) Matilda
15) Ride the Camel
16) Outline / Blue Mountain

~ Christopher Ruel ~ ~ ~ Chris Ruel's Monthly Spotlight





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