Since Charlie Hunter plays virtuoso jazz on an eight-string guitar and programs an occasional Kurt Cobain or Bob Marley tune in his sets, some traditional jazz aficionados tend to write him off as a slacker or a hipster wannabe. While Hunter has certainly done his share of broadening the genre's reach into the rock market, his love and appreciation of mid-'60s organ combos inform the funk-jazz groove propelling his music.
"Return of the Candyman" should give fans even more ammunition to combat the naysayers. Gone are the sax players sharing the front line with Hunter. In their place are the subtly swinging vibes of Stefon Harris, a Bobby Hutcherson in the making. This makes for a more open, textured sound, one that breathes and allows a certain flexing of rhythmic muscle without sacrificing intensity. This is easily the best album that Hunter has done.
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