Steve Hunter “Tone Poems Live” Singular Recordings www.SteveHunter.com
“Tone Poems Live” is Steve Hunter’s first live solo album; the band did perform live (in a studio) and were captured as if they were playing at a club/venue. There are two similar versions (DVD and CD,) both feature Tony Levin’s bass, Phil Aaberg’s keyboards and Alvino Bennett’s drums. The CD version contains eleven of the fourteen songs that are available on the DVD, all tunes are Hunter instrumental originals, except for covers of Peter Gabriel’s “Solsbury Hill,” Stevie Ray Vaughan’s “Riviera Paradise,” and the DVD’s “What’s Going On” by the late Marvin Gaye. It’s curious to note that Hunter, Levin and Aaberg all briefly toured together in the same band backing Peter Gabriel in 1977.
Highlights include the opening and thumping “The Idler” where it’s immediately apparent that this is an audiophile like recording, each instrument is magnificently detailed with clarity and texture. As the “the Idler” script unravels the band draws you in with imaginative improvisation especially from Hunter who plays with passion and free-flowing inspiration. “222 W. 23rd” opens with just Hunter’s guitar and cymbal patters from Bennett then they all meld as a quartet evolving towards a moody and smoky mode, the rhythm section digs down for Aaberg’s piano solo, Hunter counters with a short wah-wah burst then switches back to a straight and delightful guitar segments that captivate and elevate the proceedings. The band swings into “Flying Hippo” where the quartet coagulates exhibiting a sound that’s fatter than your typical four-piece; it’s not long thereafter that Hunter senses the groove and rolls. Get funky with the quirky “Rubber Man” stretching your mind with twists and turns as the title seemingly implies. Stevie Ray’s “Riviera Paradise” is delivered with all of its original beauty, Hunter touchingly evokes Vaughan’s magic yet makes this (somewhat under the radar) classic his own with exceptional tone and precision time phrasings. Peter Gabriel’s hit “Solsbury Hill” is treated with grace, the canvas colors are brilliantly decorated by this artful quartet who radiate luminously. “Freeway Rider” is reminiscent of Jeff Beck’s “Freeway Jam” it’s just a touch slower in tempo. The closing (and short) “Of all times to Leave” punctuates “Tone Poems Live” with heartfelt warmth that serves as a gentle and appropriate ending.
At the top of Steve Hunter’s web site on his “news” button Hunter states “My fingers are built for comfort not for speed.” Additionally many great musicians will often tell you it’s not all the notes they play, it’s more about the notes they don’t play, that’s exactly is what is exemplified on this very fine album that deserves high kudos and wide recognition. If there’s any downside it’s not with this album. Steve Hunter does not have a link for any future gigs, that’s a real shame. Hopefully with some press and success we’ll find Hunter and this band visiting yours and my town in the not too distant future. In the meantime enjoy “Tone Poems Live,” it’s easily one of my favorite recordings of 2014.
For fifteen years Bob Putignano has been pivotal at WFDU with his Sounds of Blue radio show (Mon. & Wed. 9am-1pm) www.SoundsofBlue.com – Previously a senior contributing editor at Blues Revue, Blueswax, and Goldmine magazines, currently the Music Editor for the Yonkers Tribune www.YonkersTribune.com – www.MakingAScene.org & www.wfdu.fm/Whats-Happening/Bob’s Music Reviews/bobs music reviews/ Bob was the 2003 recipient of the “Keeping the Blues Alive” award (given by the Blues Foundation in Memphis) for his achievements in radio broadcasting.
Putignano can be contacted at: email@example.com
Bob Putignano: www.SoundsofBlue.com Wed. & Fri. 9am-1pm: http://WFDU.fm Now celebrating 15 + years on the air in the NYC area Music Editor: www.yonkerstribune.com, www.makingascene.org & wfdu.fm/Whats-Happening/Bob’s Music Reviews/bobs music reviews/