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Music to Lighten a Heavy Heart: Charlie Hunter’s Right Now Move

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We watched the president’s press conference on Iraq last week very carefully. Since I am in favor of regime change and think the only way to accomplish this is by military action, I was pleased by his focus on the matter.

Okay “focus” is too soft a word: he seemed fixated, monomanical on the subject even. At this extremely delicate and tenuous phase of the operation I imagine this level of dedication is required to convince the nation, and to a lesser extent the world, that military action against Saddam is appropriate, necessary, and the best course of action.

I say all of this because I came away from the press conference in a very somber mood. At times I have been caught up in the debate, arguing loudly and with all my rhetorical might that war is appropriate policy.

But now that war is upon us – seemingly a matter of days – the reality of what WAR ACTUALLY IS has set in and the satisfaction of my personal policy stance carrying the day has given way to a powerful foreboding for the safety of our own troops, the worries and tribulations of their families, Iraqi civilians, and even the poor fools in the Iraqi military who are only there because they have no choice in the matter. War has become real again to me.

This doesn’t change my conviction, but I have no enthusiasm for the debate any longer – the debate is all but over, the reality of death and devastation is at hand. And it really didn’t help that Bush is so inarticulate, so seemingly unaware of how sloganeer his own speech sounds: a world of possibilities and nuances boiled down to catch phrases. We must do what we must do, but the inevitable horror of what we must do hangs heavily over me now.

After Bush’s press conference, I wandered upstairs in a funk and threw guitarist Charlie Hunter’s forthcoming release on the player. Hunter invented a fascinating 8-string guitar technique which allows him to simultaneously handle both bass and guitar duties in a deeply soulful acid jazz medium.

His last brilliant release, Songs From the Analog Playground introduced a young woman named Norah Jones to the world on two amazing tracks, Roxy Music’s “More than This,” and nick Drake’s “Day Is Done.” My immediate reaction was “who the hell is that singer?” and now we know.

I layed down to try to clear my head of the bad vibes of death and destruction right around the corner, and Hunter’s new disc Right Now Move returned my faith in humanity. No vocals this time, just Hunter and a new group of musicians, most notably Gregoire Maret on chromatic harmonica, throwing down earthy, magnetic grooves drawing on worldbeat, New Orleans, Caribbean and African sources for a gravity-defying but substantive evocation of what humans working joyously together can achieve.

That disc cleared out a swath of buoyancy in my heavy heart. Thanks Charlie.

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