Charlie Hunter: Gentlemen I Regret to Inform You You Will Not Be Getting Paid


Charlie Hunter has used horns on a number of past projects, but he’s never used them quite like he does on his latest studio effort. Gentlemen I Regret to Inform You You Will Not Be Getting Paid is an example of the seven-string samurai’s ingenuity as a musician and recording artist.

As exhibited on "You Look Good in Orange," Hunter consciously avoids use of the saxophone, opting instead for a fluid complement of two trombones(Alan Ferber and Curtis Fowlkes) and trumpet (Eric Biondo). In this single track, this three-man horn section proves to be, in turn,  fluid, graceful and punchy.
That last quality is essential as Hunter, together with drummer Eric Kalb, comprises a versatile rhythm section capable of digging way down in a groove as on that languid track or, as on "Antoine," proceeding at a quick snappy clip that’s no less earthy. Dave McNair engineered, mixed and mastered the two-day recording sessions for this album purely in monaural sound, but there’s no lack of presence when the whole quintet gets into vigorous action. The title song, for instance, is a brisk shuffle that makes for an emphatic conclusion, plus an effective contrast to the aforementioned opening that’s as catchy as a pop song.
The simplicity of the five-piece sound belies the sophistication of the arrangements. Guitar and drums often enact a virtual ballet with the horns, as on "Tout Ce Qui Brille ne Pas Or," even as the delicacy there alternates with a jaunty New Orleans swing. When Hunter is front and center on this disc, as on "Every Day You Wake Up New York Says No,", the direct recording process only enhances the sound of his unusual instrument and his unorthodox way of playing. Kalb is the only other player there and on on "High and Dry," which ends up being a testament to the drummer’s restraint and feel for nuance: he never bumps against Hunter or even gets in his way as the two of them create a languorous mood together.
To the credit of all involved, nowhere does the music sound studied or the musicianship conducted too carefully. McNair again deserves kudos for capturing the spontaneity of it all, but even more so Charlie Hunter, not just for the courage of his independently-released conception, but for setting such an unself-conscious tone absolutely indispensable for its stylish execution.

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