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Guitarist Charlie Hunter talks SuperBlue2 and collaborating with Kurt Elling

Charlie Hunter visits KNKX's Seattle studios on October 3, 2023.
Parker Miles Blohm
Charlie Hunter visits KNKX's Seattle studios on October 3, 2023.

Before celebrating his new album SuperBlue2 at Jazz Alley with singer Kurt Elling, guitarist Charlie Hunter stopped by KNKX's Seattle studios to talk about their modernistic collaborations in recent years.

Though Hunter is regarded as one of the top guitar players in the world, he explained that this SuperBlue group is not focused on his guitar playing. "It's my job to really be in the rhythm section," Hunter said. "I like playing guitar stuff, don't get me wrong, but to get on a good groove... there's nothing more satisfying than that."

Hunter explained that the SuperBlue albums, launched during the pandemic, were produced with the music first and Kurt Elling's lyrics, melodies, lead and backup vocals added later.

"He's so in-the-pocket with his singing," Hunter shared, "I would have no hesitancy going into the studio with him and know that he would nail it on the first take."

The two co-stars are just months apart in age and the material shows it. SuperBlue2 matches originals like the modern groove-bop of "Not Here - Not Now" and clever covers of Joni Mitchell's "Black Crow" and Bob Dorough's Schoolhouse Rock! classic "Naughty Number Nine."

SuperBlue2 reunites a wonderful musical friendship that's energized by young musicians from the group Butcher Brown, keyboard player DJ Harrison and drummer Corey Fonville.

Hunter said he's having fun as part of musical teams and producing for other artists at this point in his career. "I'm not pursuing my own kind of band or anything like that," he explained.

Thankfully, Hunter is still keeping himself quite busy regardless of how much of the spotlight falls on him. He promised to connect with KNKX for a studio session performance next time he's in Seattle, and we look forward to that occasion knowing that Hunter always finds himself in very good company.

Enjoy this brief conversation catching up with Charlie Hunter and find past studio sessions from Hunter and Elling in our archives.

The New Cool airs Fridays at 9 p.m., hosted by Abe Beeson and produced by KNKX Public Radio in Seattle, Washington. LISTEN ON DEMAND

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Abe grew up in Western Washington, a third generation Seattle/Tacoma kid. It was as a student at Pacific Lutheran University that Abe landed his first job at KNKX, editing and producing audio for news stories. It was a Christmas Day shift no one else wanted that gave Abe his first on-air experience which led to overnights, then Saturday afternoons, and started hosting Evening Jazz in 1998.