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Steve Hunter

Tone Poems Live

Review by Gary Hill

This live album is pretty great. It’s got quite a bit of progressive rock and fusion melded with a bluesy kind of foundation. In addition to guitarist Steve Hunter, the musicians here are Tony Levin, Phil Aaberg and Alvino Bennett. This might not be the closest fit under progressive rock, but I’ll stand by the inclusion here. No matter the musical style, though, this is well worth having and enjoying.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2014  Volume 6 at

Track by Track Review
The Idler

Drums start things. The rest of the band join and we’re in a fusion meets blues kind of jam. This is very tasty stuff. It has a great groove.

222 W 23rd
There are definitely proggy elements at play on this tune. The tone and the mood are the keys here. Yet, the killer fusion groove is great, too. This is isn’t the powerhouse that the opener was. In some ways, its subtly makes it an even stronger piece. I like this one a lot.
Deep Blue
There is more of a mainstream rock meets smooth jazz vibe here. It’s got some great soloing, but overall isn’t as strong as the previous two cuts. I do like the mellower, expressive drop back at the end quite a bit, though.
Flying Hippo
This is a lot more of a high energy cut. It’s very much a bluesy rocker with hints of the Allman Brothers. It’s a cool tune.

Definitely landing more in rock territory, this has some killer guitar soloing. This isn’t all that long.

Rubber Man

I love this. It’s got a funky sound to it, but also seems to combine a rubbery Peter Gabriel like bass line with more pure fusion. It’s one of the highlights of the set. Of course, the guitar soloing really shines.

Riviera Paradise
This comes in very much as an old school jazz cut. It works to more pure fusion territory from there. It’s a great tune. It’s a bit understated, but the guitar soloing and general vibe make it work very well.
Solsbury Hill
Here is a version of a Peter Gabriel song. I like this a lot. It is far closer to the original, but in an instrumental form, than it is to fusion. It’s definitely a rock song. It has some great soloing and works extremely well in this format. At tines there is almost a bluegrass element here.
Swept Away
This is more of a pure fusion jam, and it’s a good one at that.
Freeway Rider
Somehow this feels like something that might have been on David Gilmour’s first solo album. It’s a cool rocking tune with some great musical moments. There is definitely a pure blues edge to it.
Of All Times to Leave
Here is a mellower fusion piece to end the show. It’s got some tasty melodies and works quite well.
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