Drummer McClenty Hunter might not be a household name for some, but he should be. In jazz, and arguably other genres, drummers are sometimes taken for granted. On his latest album, “The Groove Hunter” the jazz veteran mixes classics with originals. Regardless of what kind of music he plays, Hunter’s ability for playing shuffle grooves and other types of beats shines through. “The Groove Hunter” will be available May 4, 2018. Audiences can get it from iTunes, CD Baby, and Amazon.
“The Groove Hunter” finds Hunter turning classics such as Stevie Wonder’s “That Girl,” and others into jazz gold.
About McClenty Hunter Jr.
Howard University-educated McClenty Hunter Jr. studied under Grady Tate. After completing his studies at Howard, Hunter went to Juilliard and earned a masters degree there. His development as a professional musician was crafted while working as a musician with Darin Atwater’s Soulful Symphony in Maryland. His development as a performer continued when Hunter became a part of Kenny Garnett’s quintet. The group would come to be nominated for Grammy Awards. Hunter also performed with Lou Donaldson, Eric Reed, Curtis Fuller, Javon Jackson and others.
For the past ten years, Hunter has been making a name for himself in New York City. His latest release shows his ability to make classics out of almost any song. This is particularly telling when the tune did not begin as a jazz song.
While Hunter’s drumming is beyond thoughtful, the ways in which the songs work together are masterful as well. His ensemble is completed by a virtual jazz whos-who of performers. Dave Stryker, Christian Sands, Corcoran Holt, Eric Wheeler and others bring with them decades of experience.
“That Girl” by McClenty Hunter
There is so much that can be said about Stevie Wonder’s classic. The groove-rich confidence of the narrator describing a young woman who he is certain thinks could have his love if she wanted it. The pair’s romantic telethapy results in the woman’s soul crying out, and the narrator having heard every word.
The song begins with a spirited drum motif. The guitar plays what is the lyrical line in the original. The bass echoes it. Hunter’s version is faster but no less nuanced than the original. There are guitar and piano showcases in the middle of the song, but the rhythms of the original sound as if they are being played somewhere in this song at all times. A peppy, swinging feel develops such as the one found in Van Morrison’s “Moondance.”
The songs Hunter presents on “The Groove Hunter” are classic, groove-rich, and in some cases fun. They are a mix of fast and slow, original and cover. “The Groove Hunter” should prove an essential part of jazz aficionados’ collections.