Jammin' With the Charlie Hunter Quartet

Hunter plays a mean guitar. Photo by Apple staff photographer.

4:37 PM. OK, so here we go. I'm standing out in the middle

of this tent. The tent is the "Alive" tent, one of eight locations where live

music of comedy will be performed all night long, and it's called the "Alive"

tend for good reason. Some of the most living and breathing rock & roll/new

jazz/rap-soul of the night--Van Gogh's Daughter, Spearhead, Gin Blossoms and

the Charlie Hunter Quartet--will be performed on a stage at the end of this

tent. Anyway, it's weird in here for two reasons: 1) Aside from a few people in

the sound booth, and the crew scurrying around the stage, and, of course, the

members of the Charlie Hunter Quartet, there is no one else here. This is like

a private concert. Cool.

At the moment, these Hunter Quartet guys are

jammin' like crazy, man. Think Jimmy Smith, circa 1964. In case you don't

remember Jimmy Smith, he's the greatest jazz organ player of all time. Now

Charlie Hunter plays guitar, not organ. Only he's got his guitar hooked up to

some strange science-fiction-like contraption that transforms the guitar notes

he plays into organ notes. (Also bass guitar notes, but that's less

interesting.) I'm looking at the guy riffing away, expecting to hear lead guitar

only instead I hear classic Jimmy Smith organ chords. Very cool.

While

Hunter, drummer Jay Lane and sax player Calder Spanier groove, the other sax

player, David Ellis, joins me out on the grass. He's there to make sure the

sound is just right, but I quickly collar him in hopes of getting the group's

set list for the night so that in case I decide to go hang at the bar and have

an intimate relationship with a nice bottle of chardonnay, I'll know what the

group has played and can "improvise" a bit later when filing a report on their

set. "We don't have a set list," Spanier tells me, adjusting his baseball cap.

"We make it up as we go." So much for that idea.

On the other hand, this

makes plenty of sense. After all, this is a jazz group, not a rock group, and

jazz groups are indeed known for making it up as they go. Anyway, after two

songs that find the buys boppin' along in a kind of retro-jazz mode, I am

completely sold. No need to forsake their set for the bar, these guys are going

to be great tonight. I can feel it!

Over and out.