Groundtruther (Charlie Hunter and Bobby Previte) Longitude (with DJ Logic)

[Thirsty Ear; 2005]

Rating: 3.5/5

Styles: West Coast acid jazz, fuzz rock, hip hop, funk
Others: Medeski, Martin & Wood, James Taylor Quartet, Greyboy, Hello Nasty

Ostensibly, Longitude, the second recording from virtuosi Bobby Previte (drums) and Charlie Hunter (eight-string guitar), is a jazz recording. As Groundtruther, the duo mine the territory of both contemporary acid jazz and mid-'60s psychedelia. This time around, the "revolving" third member of Groundtruther is DJ Logic, who is best known for his frequent collaborations with Medeski, Martin & Wood. Logic's style is well-suited to this type of West Coast acid jazz. Non-invasive, subtle, and extremely fluid, DJ Logic's samples and scratching adorn these pieces, serving to flesh them out rather than weigh them down. Certainly Previte's drumming is stunning and Hunter's guitar is equally outstanding, but without Logic on the decks, Longitude would have been a considerably sparser release. Likewise, the explorer/astronomer-related motifs in the song titles are apt on this recording. Longitude shows Hunter and Previte letting loose and putting in complex, expansive performances that push the boundaries of the modern jazz idiom.

Charlie Hunter has a decidedly clever knack for pulling off extremely technical jazz-inflected funk licks that, at times, have a certain strategic, affected sloppiness to them. With few exceptions, the majority of the guitar playing on the album is heavily distorted; almost fuzzed-out. His playing style is reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix, circa-Are You Experienced? in many ways on this recording. Hunter's noodly leads and mind-boggling string bends make this a colorfully engaging record that urges the listener to give it a repeated listen or two. Most of the album, excepting the turntable and other incidental samples, sounds like the work of a duo in its stark simplicity, although Hunter uses some judiciously-placed overdubs to beef Longitude up a bit, giving it a meatier, denser quality. Furthermore, Hunter's use of the eight-string guitar expands the range of the guitar dynamics suitably for this release.

Perhaps the most notable component of Longitude, however, is Bobby Previte's conspicuously masterful dexterity on the drums. Previte possesses the all-too-rare ability to turn the drums into a lead instrument that you listen to, rather than hear. Far beyond the standard rhythm section fare, Previte's performances on most all of these pieces are sufficiently memorable in their execution. More than just a jazz drummer, Previte is also a composer, and it is his compositional abilities that inform his playing style. Additionally, Previte's frequent and intriguing time signature changes are a compelling feature of the album that stays with the listener well beyond the album's duration.

Longitude doesn't sound like the end result of two artists setting out to create a groundbreaking, left-field release. Rather, the album sounds like the work of a couple of highly accomplished musicians flexing their musical chops and playing what it's in their nature to play. It's a light, refreshing, and fun recording that is a welcome diversion from, well, the usual miseries of life.

1. Transit of Venus
2. Tycho Brahe
3. March 1741, Cape Horn
4. Course Made Good
5. Dead Reckoning
6. Medicean Stars
7. Jupiter Mask
8. H-4
9. Back-Quadrant
10. Epherimedes
11. Prime Meridian
12. South Heading

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