By Pam Baumgardner
Karl Hunter Jazz Quartet performance at Squashed Grapes, Wednesday, November 27, 2013.
As soon as I got wind that Karl Hunter had put together a jazz quartet and would be playing at The Grape, I was on board. I got my ticket and I asked Karl if VenturaRocks.com could publish his post he had placed on his Facebook page as he wrote about why he was doing this and highlighted each musician he had handpicked to play with him (see below photo gallery).
I’ll be honest, I expected a great night of jazz because you know the guys in Big Bad Voodoo Daddy are the best, hardest working group of talented musicians around. And after reading what Karl wrote, I figured I was in for a really cool night of talented friends getting together to mess around and kick it up a bit. But what I got was a mind-blowing experience of ultra talented musicians brought together in an intimate setting giving it 100%. It was the kind of performance that strikes at your inner being.
My highest regards to Rufus Philpot (bass), Andy Langham (keyboards) and Aaron McLendon (drums). Coming together along with Karl to do this performance on Thanksgiving Eve was an extraordinary thing to do. You guys so nailed it. I loved how Karl would just step aside and let his friends work their magic as he watched from the doorway with a very smug smile on his face. And then he’d step back in and “BAM” he’d hit it out of the park.
I just want to personally thank Karl Hunter for bringing this caliber of talent to Ventura and to Squashed Grapes. The four of you together was truly inspirational. It was a privilege to be there and witness it and it’s a night I will never forget.
(Karl originally wrote this for his Facebook page. We thought it super awesome so we asked him for permission to post it on our website, and he said, and I quote, “I would love that. Thank you so much!”
The Karl Hunter Quartet plays Squashed Grapes Wednesday, November 27, 2013. For advance tickets, stop by Squashed Grapes at 2351 E. Main Street, Ventura, CA)
So in all my years of being a musician I have never fronted a band. Never had my own project or my name on a marquee. I’ve always wanted to but never got it together. That’s about to change. I was approached by the awesome folks at Squashed Grapes in Ventura to put a band together for a “Karl Hunter Quartet” gig on November 27th, the night before Thanksgiving. I’ve mulled over a potential dream band for years wondering what it would be like to play with X drummer, Y piano or guitar player, or Z bass player. Never in all those years did I ever conceive a line up like this…
I put together a “what if” dream line up and picked up the phone. And low and behold, everyone was down to get down, so to speak.
Occasionally there are a-ha moments on the bandstand. Those moments that usually make me laugh out loud on stage, because someone has played something so left field, so unique and cool, that I wouldn’t of thought of it in a thousand years. I’ve had one of those moments with each of these guys. And I can’t wait to hear them together on the same stage and discover what craziness ensues.
Rufus Philpot, while being one of the funniest hangs and a real character is also incidentally a deranged monster on bass. He’s one of the few bass players I’ve ever had the honor to play with, who’s technique is so honed that he has absolutely no barrier between thought and execution. Sometimes it’s absolutely ludicrous what he can fit in before the end of a phrase, all the while never sacrificing the groove. Much like the funny comments between the tunes that skirt the edge but never quite cross the line 🙂 Rufus has mastered the dark arts of Jazz fusion while playing with a who’s who of the genre. Allan Holdsworth. Simon Philips , Chad Wackerman, Randy Brecker, Al Di Miola & David Gilmore, to name a few. (Okay, David Gilmore is probably not jazz fusion but still demands a mention.)
If you’re an local 805er and into the music scene you must have felt the auora of Aaron McLendon. The mere mention of the name makes the clouds part, and vocal choirs appear out of nowhere. Along with serious proclamations that usually go like: “duuuude he’s the baddddest!!!!” For years, I heard the rumors and wondered what it was all about. Aaron and I both had the awesome opportunity to have been students of the amazing music mentor, Isaac Jenkins. And it was at an alumni tribute to Ike that I got to have one of those a-ha moments I previously mentioned, when finally witnessing Aaron’s playing. He had a drum solo in a big band tune, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Was he going to showcase amazing chops? Or go obscure with metric modulation & over the bar line trickery? (All of which I would have loved.) No, he did a solo almost completely on cymbals. super textural, and unbelievably musical. All the while holding everyone’s attention with an iron fist. The rumors were absolutely true, Aaron parts clouds. He’s Badddd. So Badddd that He a heavy among heavyweights. Playing with: Charlie Haden, George Clinton, Billy Childs, Christian Scott, Kurt Elling, and the New York Voices.
Andy Langham is a deep well. His bag of tricks is bottomless. If music was a poker game he would see you and raise you on every hand. Whatever improvisational musical idea you have, he can take and refine, and then redefine and then take that and redefine it again in a way that is so many levels deep, that you’ll be absolutely dumbfounded how he got from point a to point z. He is undoubtedly the most gnarley musician I have ever played with. No joke. A lot of musicians can sound good on their instrument, but that is just the tiny point on top of the tip of the iceberg for Andy. His understanding of the inner workings and interrelationship of harmony is super-human. He honestly should wear a cape. But that’s not Andy’s style. He’s is perfectly comfortable with being Clark Kent, and like Clark, is one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. If you have any interest in Jazz and the improvisational process you need to come and see Andy play. If you enjoy witnessing the extremitys of human accomplishment and potential you will be amazed. He’s the Carl Lewis or the Michael Jordan of Jazz Piano. How often do you get to rub shoulders with Olympians?
Those lucky enough to play with Andy include Pancho Sanchez, Natalie Cole, Christian McBride, Ernie Watts, Dewey Redman and the New York Voices.
I am honored and flattered that these gentleman would come to Ventura to play with me. If you can’t tell already I’m beyond excited about this night of music, you must have skipped a few paragraphs.
My hope is to get the train rolling, grab onto the caboose and hold on for dear life. I absolutely know one of the things I’ll be thankful for when I wake up on Thanksgiving morning. If you are free on Thanksgiving eve, you should consider joining us on this very special night. I feel very fortunate that these gentleman are able to be in one place at the same time. If you can, come out and share in what with undoubtedly, will be an amazing evening.