Charlie Hunter & Adam Cruz | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Charlie Hunter & Adam Cruz 

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Charlie Hunter & Adam Cruz

Charlie Hunter's devotees have doubtless heard more than enough about his eight-string guitar technique. True, Hunter's astonishing--he plays sly improvisations on the top five strings and fully independent bass lines on the bottom three, and sends each line out through a separate amp--but that parlor trick is responsible for so much of the attention directed his way you'd think it was all he had going for him. His real trick, as those devotees would tell you, is an ability to create genuine musical gold with his technical sleight of hand. Intuition suggests Hunter would have to give something up in terms of melodic invention when accompanying himself (as, for example, the late guitarist Joe Pass usually did when he played solo), but on "Do That Then," from his new Duo (Blue Note), the bass line lends its indomitable, behind-the-beat propulsion to a solo that stands sturdily on its own merits. Like any great sideman Hunter the bassist supports and inspires the guitarist--who in this case happens to be himself. On the new album he pairs up with compact percussionist Leon Parker to form a lean "virtual trio" of guitar, bass, and drums, and nothing in Hunter's discography makes such a convincing case for his musical split personality. On tour he's replaced Parker with Adam Cruz, but the trade has its advantages too. Cruz has played with Chick Corea's Origin, the Mingus Big Band, David Sanchez, and Eddie Palmieri. His experience with novel hybrids of Latin music and straight-ahead jazz means he'll have no trouble hopping genres again to pump out the 60s soul-jazz funk beats and boogaloos of Hunter's music, and the duo format will give him a chance to strut his stuff like never before. Scott Stenten, another iconoclastic fret man, opens the show with his double-necked axe, which also combines the range and function of a bass and a guitar. Sunday, 7:30 PM, Park West, 322 W. Armitage; 773-929-5959 or 312-559-1212. NEIL TESSER

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Charles Richardson.

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