Tag Archives: Tim Luntzel

ROLLICKING! WHIT SMITH and MATT MUNISTERI: “HELL AMONG THE HEDGEHOGS”

The new CD by Whit Smith, Matt Munisteri, and Tim Luntzel,  HELL AMONG THE HEDGEHOGS is a delight, so varied and lively, that I have found myself playing it twice in a row, enjoying it more each time.

I know that you can’t listen to the cover, but even the wry drawing (the cover of an imagined hip children’s book) by Ariella Huff says something about the CD’s witty, swinging sensibility:

Some of you will be ready to order it right now — so why should I burden you with details?  You can accomplish that goal right here or (if you feel Amazonian) here — or if you like all things Baby, then here.

I always think that the absolute best way, should you want a tangible disc, is to buy it from the artist at a gig — doubling your pleasure and the artist’s — but I know that isn’t convenient for everyone.

Whit and Matt, peerless guitarists, romp on “two old Gibson electric guitars,” with their distinctive sound — and are joined by the fine string bassist Tim Luntzel.  The sessions were recorded in 2010, and they sound real, with no studio trickery or tension.  The final track comes from a live session at Barbes in Brooklyn — and has some impromptu crowd support, as is appropriate.

Guitarists will want this disc immediately: it is a casual, playful series of tumbling conversations between two players who swing intuitively, whose epigrammatic phrases and long lines ring in the mind.  The brief comments on the back of the paper sleeve distinguish Whit and Matt for those not immediately familiar with the sound of each player: “Whit’s sound is more compact and warm; Matt has more treble and gloss; Whit is tighter and dry; Matt is slithery and wet.  Whit is hedgehog, Matt is muskrat.”

Now we can move on, having cleared that up.

The sound of the three string instruments suggests — at turns — shirt-sleeved daredevils on the shady porch, creating new paths through familiar melodies, taking their time.  At times a ringing phrase suggests Bix or Louis, George Barnes or Chet Atkins — or the local train meandering through the history of intimate swing playing of the last ninety years.  You’ll hear a barn dance and a Harlem jam session of 1941.  Nothing drags or races; everyone explores the open vistas of rocking Medium Tempos in light-hearted ways.

Whit sings ALONG THE NAVAJO TRAIL; Matt offers SINGIN’ THE BLUES with the never-heard verse.  Those two selections will indicate the wide range of the nine songs: from obscure pop songs to hokum to jazz classics to one by Eldon Shamblin and Tiny Moore, YOU JUST TAKE HER.  The songs show a deep immersion in the jazz tradition — MUSKRAT RAMBLE, DEEP HENDERSON, a Coleman Hawkins line, TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING; a Sidney Bechet tune, OKEY DOKE.  But don’t think that this CD is jazz archaeology, dusty jazz idolatries.  Certainly not.  The classic lines are used as foundations for energetic, joyous playing.  The title track — an original by Whit — is a left-handed consideration of STRUTTIN’ WITH SOME BARBECUE (to my ears) full of surprises.  And no CD that ends with YOU’RE BOUND TO LOOK LIKE A MONKEY WHEN YOU GROW OLD (one of those tough truths no one wants to hear) can be overly serious, can it?

I never cared much for muskrats and hedgehogs before this, but I’ve changed my mind.  You will, too.

MATT MUNISTERI SPEAKS!

The wizard guitarist (plectrist, rather) Matt Munisteri has a ferocious beat, is a cornucopia of new melodies, and is a demonic wit — in addition.  Here’s his latest gig-posting, worth reading even if you are going to be miles away on the dates he indicates here.  And if you can come to one or all of these gigs, so much the better . . . .

Munisteri

Peoples. There are musical rewards aplenty for folks who hang in town this coming Memorial Day weekend.

Thursday May 21st 10pm Barbes

For my first “Third Thursday” gig in two months, I’ll joined by Jon Dryden on piano and Tim Luntzel on bass. One very small part of Jon’s load of genius involves his rather incendiary (to me, to me at least) Floyd Cramer touch on 3-chord chestnuts, so I’m busy scheming.

Friday May 22nd 9pm Jalopy $12

SMECK! A Celebration of String Wizardry

Roy Smeck, “The Wizard of The Strings”, was a 1920’s and 30’s multi-string virtuoso and a vaudeville star, and I’ve recruited two of the most powerful string wizards I know, Doug Wamble and Charlie Burnham, to join me in conjuring the spirits of wizards past and future. All three have us have played with Steven Bernstein’s Millennial Territory Orchestra, but I believe this will mark the first time we’ve ever trio-ed. The evening will begin with Alan Edelstein’s great ’86 Academy Award nominated film “Wizard of the Strings” – with an in person introduction by the auteur – followed by a selection of ultra-rare short films of various by-gone string virtuosi, curated by the mad archivist Russell Scholl. Then we’ll all take a deep breath (of something) and see just how much voodoo Doug, Charlie, and myself can summon with a heap of guitars, banjos and mandolins. And the blood of one dead chicken.

Sunday May 24th 8-11 The Ear Inn – Spring St, off Washington

The EarRegulars

Our leader and savior Jon Kellso will be absent this Sunday, but we’ll be blessed with a visitation of two of the baddest sorcerers-of-the-reeds, Evan Christopher, of New Orleans LA, and Scott Robinson, of Teaneck NJ. Also on hand will be Danton Boller, of Malcolm X Blvd., on bass. Be afraid. And get there early, to plant your booty firmly in a seat – there exists the distinct likelihood that such a lineup will, ahem, “turn this mother out”.

Later that same night, at 1am, (!), Evan, Danton, and I will be playing for a grand celebration in honor of what, up until April 27th 2009, would have been Frankie Manning’s 95th birthday. Actually, earlier that same day we’re playing a private event for the Sidney Bechet Society, but don’t worry; we’ll Man Up. Monday, I rest.

And, of course there’s always a “Law and Order” re-run on somewhere if you’d rather stay home. Yes, I’ve seen to that too. I seek only to keep you entertained.