Mistico (Fantasy)
Charlie Hunter Trio

By Martin Kasdan Jr.

Charlie Hunter, known for simultaneously playing bass and lead parts on a custom-made 8-string guitar, has been moving toward a more rock-oriented approach for the past few years, as evidenced on Copperopolis, reviewed here in November 2006, among other recordings. On Mistico, his first release for Fantasy (FCD-30265), with a new lineup of Simon Lott on drums and Erik Deutsch on keyboards, Hunter not only rocks harder, but does so on an ax with only seven strings. The fourth cut, "Balls," is a case in point; it all but begs for lyrics and a sturdy-lunged singer. The title track is appropriately spooky, a slow trip into the Twilight Zone. Hunter has deep roots in funk and stays in touch with them in pieces such as "Wizard Sleeve," a spacey workout to a serious backbeat and "Spoken Word," which offers funk with a wink. Fans of Hunter's more overtly jazz-oriented recordings may find this album a bit disorienting, but those who have followed his musical journeys over the years should find much to enjoy here.