Santa Cruz Good Times

Monday
Jan 26th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

When musical friends go home

music-gohome_thumb_thumbCharlie Hunter and Ben Goldberg find out what's in store when accidents happen

Charlie Hunter just can’t stay away from home. The jazz funk guru who freakishly pulls triple duty on his custom-made seven and eight-string guitars, busting out bass, rhythm and solo magic, first left for the East Coast in 1996 because, he says, “I just had to go to New York to get my butt kicked, you know? I didn’t want to be 50 years old and feel like I didn’t do that.” Still, the Berkeley native hasn’t left us waning from his radar.

Minus his usual trio set-up, Hunter’s back with a surprise ensemble led by Bay Area clarinetist and composer Ben Goldberg, who earned his music degree from UC Santa Cruz. With no label, no website, and simply some demo tracks still being packaged, Go Home is as spankin’ new as it gets—an all-star band that’s come together in an ever so jazz-appropriate improvised manner. Rounding out with Hunter’s longtime cohort Scott Amendola on drums and trumpeter Ron Miles (who attended the same Colorado high school as Goldberg and has collaborated extensively with Bill Frisell), the collective is a reunion of old friends, and will make its live debut onstage this week at The Kuumbwa to kick off a trial run of Northern California shows.

Goldberg, formerly of the avant garde New Klezmer Trio known for its innovative free jazz Jewish music, has since seen his songwriting take a more melodic, accessible turn. He collaborated with San Francisco’s Tin Hat acoustic chamber ensemble, and more recently in 2006, he partnered with Amendola in Plays Monk, interpreting the music of Thelonious Monk and further expanding his musical territory. “I felt like groove was becoming more of an important thing for me and that Charlie and I now had a place in common,” Goldberg begins, “so it was like, ‘Yeah, man, well there’s Charlie over there—let’s see what happens if we get together.’”

In an attempt to follow that hunch, Goldberg headed over to Hunter’s New Jersey home last year to share what he had in the works, confident that he whom he calls “a master and student of groove” could take his arrangements and run with it. And he did.

“Something that I’m interested in is old R&B and rootsy grooves over a much more improvised structure, and it was putting these two different paradigms together and making it work,” Hunter recalls, upon first hearing Goldberg’s compositions. “And that was really exciting to me.”

That first jam session ultimately made its way into the studio for a casual two-day recording stint last April in New York, when all four players happened to be in the city for other gigs. Two afternoons, nine songs. With Goldberg and Miles interlocking their respective wind instruments into whimsical lyrical play, and Hunter and Amendola slamming together their thick grooves in an intuitive marriage Goldberg describes as being like ESP, Go Home is like a playground of musical irreverence and stylistic possibility. Hunter delivers a more understated approach, leaving room for the clarinet and cornet to lead in the foreground, and while songs like “Wazee” open up with the guitarist’s signature head-nodding, undulating grooves, songs like “Lace” showcase Goldberg and Miles alternating in an instrumental tango.

“When I first started writing these songs I was kind of embarrassed,” Goldberg confesses. “I felt like I couldn’t play them in public because it’s not complicated or abstract enough. Part of the name of the band was me telling myself, ‘No, just forget about that. Just go home and play that down home music that we all enjoy.’ The funny thing is, it initially came about not as any idea to get a band together. I just suggested that we all go into the studio—I’ll bring the music and let’s just see what happens.”

What happened was a hybridization of each player’s histories with one another and extraordinary versatility to harmonize in any direction. Just another jam session for a savvy crew of virtuosos interconnecting on so many levels. “Everyone has their own thing that they bring to the table, and what you bring gets scrambled up even more,” Hunter says, before summing it up with signature cool, “They’re all just bad asses, you know?”


Go Home performs at 7 and 9 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 5 at Kuumbwa Jazz, 320-2 Cedar Street, Santa Cruz. Tickets are $25/adv, $28/door. For more information, call 427-2227.
Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Force of Nature

Santa Cruz’s Carlie Statsky brings her love of the natural world to the hyper-personal art of wedding photography

 

Mercury Retrograde in Aquarius

The magical time of Mercury’s retrograde cycle is here once again, until Feb. 11, and then some. The Mercury retro cycle actually lasts eight weeks when we consider its retrograde shadow, giving us six months a year for review. We know the rules of Mercury retro: Be careful with everything; cars, driving, money, resources, friends, friendships, groups, interactions, thinking, talking, communications. Avoid big purchases, important meetings and important repairs. Mercury retrograde times are for review, reassessment and rest. Our minds are overloaded from the last Mercury retro. Our minds need to assess what we’ve done since October—eliminating what is not needed, keeping what’s important, preparing for new information in the next three months (till mid-May). Mercury in Aquarius retrograde … we reinvent ourselves, seek the unusual, we don’t hide, we’re just careful. We live in two worlds; outer appearances and inner reckonings, with both sides of our brain activated. Yet, like the light of the Gemini twins, one light waxes (inner world), the other (outer realities) wanes. Like Virgo, we see what’s been overlooked—assessing, ordering and organizing information. It’s an entirely inner process. When speaking we may utter only half of the sentence. We’re in the underworld, closer to Spirit, eyes unseeing, senses alerted, re-doing things over and over till we sometimes collapse. Because we’re in other realms, we’re wobbly, make mistakes, and don’t really know what we want. It’s not a time for decisions. Not yet. It’s a time of review. And completing things. Mercury retro: integration, slowing down, resolution, rapprochement.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of January 23

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Bye Bye Benten!

Benten closing, plus Award-winning gin, a massive burrito and chocolate review

 

Trout Gulch Vineyards

Scanning the shelves of Deluxe Foods of Aptos, which carries an impressive selection of local and imported wines, I picked up a bottle of Trout Gulch Vineyards Chardonnay 2012, described as “a local favorite” by the busy market.

 

Cremer House

What’s old is cutting-edge again in Felton

 

How are you going to make a tangible difference in your community this year?

Spread more kindness and compassion.