Charlie Hunter opens "Copperopolis" with 30 seconds of shapeless noise as a warm-up, a little pause for anticipation -- and then he gets rock'n'roll.

Charlie Hunter opens "Copperopolis" with 30 seconds of shapeless noise as a warm-up, a little pause for anticipation -- and then he gets rock'n'roll. Back in the trio setting after detours with his Garage A Trois and Groundtruther projects and numerous other band configurations, Hunter takes the sort of homecoming to lead John Ellis (keyboards, horns) and Derrek Phillips (drums) through nine tracks of head-nodding fun. Purists may have a hard time filing this under jazz, but it will be spectacularly accessible to the genre's casual visitors. "Cueball Bobbin'" gives up a nasty groove, "The Pursuit Package" efficiently showcases a swamp-rock riff and Ellis' melodica dances on "A Street Fight Could Break Out." Like his contemporaries in Soulive, Hunter's one of the best hopes for bringing this funk-spiced brand of expanded jazz to more ears. -- Jeff Vrabel

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