Released on November 20th, the new self-titled EP from Brooklyn-based Huntertones marks the first release for the band under their new name. With a growing number of NYC-area shows, regular touring, and now a polished showcase of their playing and compositions, the former Dan White Sextet continues to build its reputation as a force to be reckoned with in the world of soulful modern jazz. While their live album recorded at Natalie’s in front of their Columbus friends and family is still in production, this 6-song EP serves as an update on their development and an announcement of more great things to come. The EP is available now at CD Baby, Amazon, and iTunes. Keep reading for an album review and a taste of a couple of the tracks.
While the band’s songwriting nucleus of saxophonist Dan White, trumpeter Jon Lampley, and trombonist Chris Ott all contributed tunes to the EP, Ott wrote four of the pieces, putting his soulful, hip-hop tinged composing in the forefront. Opening track “Rumpus Time” kicks off the album with a bang, as Joshua Hill’s bright guitar riff anchors a precise horn attack. The horns are further highlighted with some intricately arranged lines over Theron Brown’s bubbling keys and White offers up a hot solo before the mood changes again for some mellower passages. Ott’s next piece, the nearly 10-minute “Welcome to the Neighborhood,” pays homage to Brooklyn with a work that builds gradually, adding instruments and shifting tempos before settling into a slinky groove that encourages inspired solos from White and Ott, and Hill and bassist Adam DeAscentis later add some rock flavor before a dreamy conclusion. Lampley’s “Delirious” is next, a shorter number with hypnotic qualities driven forward by the insistent clicks of drummer John Hubbell that features a passionate Lampley solo and some luscious parts for the horn section.
“Hip Mr. Hampton” finds the band momentarily transformed into a trio, with White on tenor sax, Lampley on sousaphone, and Ott beatboxing. This instrumentation is a crowd-pleaser in the live setting, but Ott’s piece goes deeper than a lineup shift with twists and turns, alternating rhythm and soulful leads from Lampley, and using all three voices to build real drama in new ways. “Song for Arthur,” White’s tribute to his grandfather, bursts out of the gate but slows down to showcase the elegant side of all members of the ensemble. After a beautifully hushed mid-tune passage from the horn section, White takes the lead with a slowly building solo that reaches emotional heights with the band swelling behind him. Album finale “The Gwiz,” an Ott tune inspired by bass player Janek Gwizdala, finds the band setting the stage for DeAscentis to take the lead before giving way to lavish horn lines, a driving solo from White, and a shot of electricity from Hill ahead of a powerful climax.
Mixed by Grammy Award winning engineer Bassy Bob, the Huntertones EP is a crisp and concise showcase of a band on the rise, a melting pot of musical influences recommended for music fans of most stripes. Grab a copy of the EP so you can be ready for their return to town in the spring. Check out the lead single “Rumpus Time” and live video of “Song for Arthur” from Natalie’s back in April below: