BioAt any given Charlie Hunter show, newcomers are easily spotted. They are the ones looking around the room for the bass player, or maybe the keyboard player, or both! What they soon realize is that all of these sounds are coming from one man and his eight-string guitar.....
"I knew that I wanted to do this with my life from when I was 16", says Hunter about his musical career. His early recognition of this may have been influenced by the fact that he grew up in homes where his mother repaired guitars for a living in Berkeley, California where he has lived since he was eight years old. Charlie picked up his first guitar when he was twelve years old for $7, and a few years later was taking lessons from Joe Satriani, who at that time was just another guitar teacher.
Charlie had his first 7-string guitar (2 bass strings, 5 guitar strings, 2 pickups) made for him in the late eighties, and, after figuring out how to play his custom-made toy, left for Europe to perform on the streets of Paris and Zurich. Upon returning to the states and gigging around South of Market clubs in San Francisco and in Berkeley playing by himself (covering both bass and guitar parts) he hooked up with poet/rapper Michael Franti. They performed together as a duo from time to time until Franti formed the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy and brought Charlie with him. In 1993, Charlie joined them on their tour which included a year's worth of huge stadium gigs opening for U2 along with Primus.
In 1993, Charlie left the Disposable Heroes and went in search of more jazz-oriented music. He hasn't looked back since, becoming the leading purveyor of jazz to a younger audience, along with The Greyboy Allstars and Medeski, Martin, and Wood.
It is a mission for Hunter to spread his music, but it is also a mission for him to turn others onto music of the past who might not be exposed to it anywhere else. "For some kids, this is their first exposure to jazz. They see how cool the music is and become intrigued enough to want to check out records by Thelonious Monk, Charles Mingus, and Rahsaan Roland Kirk. If our mission succeeds, hopefully we'll have helped to turn a generation of people onto a much more spiritually and soulfully executed music than what gets played on MTV," says an optimistic Hunter. "It's culturally the duty of the younger generation to help the music evolve. We wouldn't be doing our jobs if we didn't."