Charlie Hunter takes jazz into further dimensions—traditional as well as far out as out can be—though his ear never completely veers from delivering a soul satisfying sound that is uniquely his. Over the course of a career that is well into its second decade, Hunter has released 20 albums on prestige jazz labels like Blue Note and Concord, as well as independents, all of them featuring his singular guitar work. Noted for his technical expertise but always fused with his commitment to artistry as well as craft, Hunter is known for his custom seven and eight string guitars. The unusual instruments allow him to voice lead guitar as well as bass; he uses effects to create sounds of everything from vintage Hammond organ to rock 'n' roll distortion. His musical adaptability has found him an in demand collaborator with artists diverse as Les Claypool, John Mayer, and D'Angelo.
A graduate of Berkeley High School, known for its music curriculum and the musicians it turns out, Hunter was also a young student of metal guitar shredder Joe Satriani and a one time member of Michael Franti's early group, the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy. Then Hunter got his jazz on: Playing regularly in small Bay Area clubs with his Charlie Hunter Trio in the early '90s, by 1993 he'd recorded a self titled debut. The group TJ Kirk further deepened his explorations into jazz, funk, and avant garde music.
Pound for Pound was a studio project with Stefon Harris (vibraphone) John Santos (percussion) and Scott Amendola (drums), perceived as a groove project (no horns, please). Claiming inspiration from hip hop, specifically the Wu Tang Clan and A Tribe Called Quest, there's no mistaking the mood created on Pound for Pound's 1998 recording, Return of the Candyman as anything other than what it is: The "funkification" of the utterly innovative, improvisational Hunter sound.