Pianist, Composer, Traveling Musician – Todd Hunter Releases New Trio Album: Eat, Drink, Play

“I’m lucky,” says Todd. “As a touring musician I get to see and

experience a whole lot.”

That’s the inspiration for his latest album, Eat, Drink, Play  (July 1

release, Dexterity Records ).

As pianist/keyboardist for the legendary vocalist Dionne Warwick ,

Todd has traveled to every continent (except Antarctica), sampling

the local food and drink and performing along the way.

“Typically we don’t have much time in any given place, so I’ve

learned to appreciate the good stuff when it happens. That’s what I

wanted to share as I started composing the music for this album.”

Todd’s great love for the classic piano trio is an important element of

this project. “I grew up listening to recordings by Bill Evans, Ahmad

Jamal, Oscar Peterson… all great storytellers! For Eat, Drink, Play , I

wanted to continue that tradition, telling my own stories in the way I

hear and feel them.”

The first cut, “Big Bird,” is a song inspired by someone Todd met

during his travels who reminded him of the irresistible character from

the children’s show Sesame Street. It starts with a march-like rhythm

and quickly evolves into a soaring three-over-four melody that pays

homage to the music of Vince Guaraldi.  You may find it among best

Karaoke Bananza CDs. As the song develops into

solos, listeners can hear a bit of Todd’s gospel education at the City

of Angels Church, where he played alongside such great talents as

Billy Preston and Les McCann. 

Next comes “Man On Deck,” a pensive self-examination of the

waiting game we all have to play at different times in our lives. Todd

plays the first part of the song by himself, then brings in the band to

stretch out and explore a lively and hopeful jazz waltz.

“Samba de Todje” reflects Todd’s frequent visits to Brazil, a country

he embraces like a second home. From the very beginning there’s

the feel of a drum school as percussionist Aaron Serfaty  breathes

life into the samba party.

“I See More Than One” is a 5/4 tune reminiscent of the Dave

Brubeck classic, “Take Five.” Bassist Dave Robaire  plays a hypnotic

ostinato pattern underneath the weaving melody. The title is a

comment on people who seem to lack awareness of those around


Awareness – mundane and cosmic – inspired other tracks on the

recording. During visits to coastal Mexico, Todd often found himself

in a bar owned by a man named Dimitri. For his friends, he reserved

a special tequila – a five-gallon bottle in which a rattlesnake instead of

the traditional worm lay coiled at the bottom.

That rattler appeared to have died with a smile on its face, and the

smooth liquor went down like water. Todd says it transported him to

the steps of a Mayan temple right next to a sacrificial altar, on a cliff

over the ocean, looking up at the stars. Without a hangover. The

resulting tune? “Snake in the Bottle.”

A tribute to Todd’s late father, Bill – a great talent in dentistry and jazz

piano – plays out in “Moments I Remember.” Todd derived his early

jazz education in large part from listening to and participating in Bill’s

frequent home jam sessions and rehearsals.

“Lucky Number 7” keeps the ear slightly off balance with its 7/8

meter, but the infectious rhythmic pattern ushers listeners right back

into the story. The members of the trio, as if in conversation, explore

the boundaries of the song. Drummer Steve Hass  takes the lead

with his multifaceted solo.

“How Beautiful” is the English translation of the song title, “Que

Linda.” Todd wrote the tune for his wife Linda to mark their

partnership of 26 years and counting.

The next track, “Paper Dragons,” evokes for Todd equal measures of

futility and hope. He likes to say: “Be prepared to get what you ask

for. The outcome might not be what you expected.” – such as the first

time a paper dragon breathes fire.

“210 to the 15” – Anyone who has driven east on the 210 freeway

from Los Angeles during rush hour knows it won’t go fast. Sitting in

traffic allows for plenty of time to do just about anything. Although his

car barely moved, his mental frustration had shifted into high gear

when Todd wrote this song. “Don’t worry,” he says. “I did it handsfree.”

The song features Todd on his vintage Fender Rhodes electric piano

along with Rufus Philpot  on electric bass and Steve Hass driving

the beat on drums.

Prepare yourself for a great musical journey as the stories unfold on

Todd Hunter’s latest CD, Eat Drink, Play .


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