Between the late ’80s and the early ’90s, these avant-garde jazz guitarists hiked down some odd roads. While Newark, N.J.’s Marc Ribot all but invented “skronk” and famously played such for Tom Waits, John Zorn and a host of smooth femme chanteuses (Norah Jones, Madeleine Peyroux), Charlie Hunter and his seven-stringed instrument took funky wing with nü-soulsters D’Angelo, Frank Ocean, Mocean Worker and more. These session efforts occasionally stood taller than their brave solo albums and shadowed who these men were as composers and curators. These two albums will hopefully shed new light and show off shards of genuine humor.
For Ribot, working with second guitarist Mary Halverson and Philly harmolodic jazz rhythm artists Jamaladeen Tacuma and G. Calvin Weston on a host of songs familiar to fans of Gamble & Huff’s Sound Of Philadelphia, tackling smooth, orchestrated soul and paring it down to its noisy essential was a blast. Hearing Ribot and Co. tackle Teddy Pendergrass’ “Love TKO” and the Trammps’ “Love Epidemic” is the aural equivalent of a rickety roller coaster speeding off its rails, sliding through hot butter, then landing on spicy cinnamon toast.
Hunter’s crisp, bold Everybody Has A Plan Until They Get Punched In The Mouth is a bit sillier and stranger than his usual solo output. Be it blunt, nearly poppish tunes such as “No Money, No Honey” and woozy epics such as “(Looks Like) Somebody Got Ahead Of Schedule On Their Medication,” Hunter is pushing his fret work and its staccato stutter to new John McLaughlin-meets-Carlos Santana psychedelic heights. Boom.