Jazz, funk, rock and soul stirred up with hip-hop, gospel, world and R&B? It somehow all makes sense in the spirited sound served up by Huntertones. The Brooklyn-based instrumental ensemble brings its lively blend to Nectar’s in Burlington Thursday, in support of its third album, “Passport,” released last fall.
The eclectic collective was formed nearly a decade ago in Columbus, Ohio, by three Ohio State University students who still lead the band: saxophonist Dan White, trombonist and beatboxer Chris Ott, and sousaphonist and trumpeter Jon Lampley. Lampley is also a member of Jon Batiste and Stay Human — the house band for “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” — and the platinum-selling rock band O.A.R.
The three co-founders are joined in Huntertones by Josh Hill on guitar, John Hubbell on drums, and Adam DeAscentis on bass.
The group has been garnering growing acclaim for its joyous, dance-inducing live shows, its distinctive cover songs and compelling original compositions, and an ever-popular social media presence. Case in point: Huntertones has enjoyed viral acclaim for its captivating “Michael Jackson Mashup,” a medley of 16 songs by the King of Pop, which has generated more than half a million views on Facebook.
After rising to the heights of the Columbus scene alongside indie-rock and hip-hop groups, Huntertones relocated to Brooklyn in 2014. “Passport” is the band’s first album since relocating.
The album features compositions inspired by the band’s global travels in recent years on tours through South America, Africa and Europe. Since 2016, the band has embarked on four such tours, via the U.S. State Department’s American Music Abroad program.
The 10-track album, which includes nine originals, has two notable global collaborations. “Hondo” is a traditional song that features Zimbabwean singer-songwriter and mbira player Hope Masike. And “Fergal’s Tune” features Fergal Scahill, a fiddler-mandolinist from the Irish band We Banjo 3. Downbeat called the latter “a stomping reel propelled by the composer’s beatboxing and Lampley’s slithery sousaphone grooves intertwined with White’s tenor.”
“The cellphones come out and people start recording when we do that (song) at shows,” White told Downbeat, referring to concert segments when he, Ott and Lampley step out front to lead the live festivities.
The band met Masike during a Zimbabwe residency that inspired “Bird Song,” a Lampley composition that shines on the strength of his deft trumpet work and White’s sax solo. They also stopped in Togo, which inspired the White-penned tune named after the West African country.
“Whatever the repertoire’s provenance,” said Downbeat of the album, “Huntertones’ intricate charts and kinetic beat language demand high instrumental facility.”
All About Jazz called the album “an absolutely seamless piece of work,” while PopMatters said it’s “propelled forward by a horn-driven focus on explosive, imaginative, and genre-defying compositions.”
And Batiste — known for his own crowd-pleasing and genre-blurring sound that he’s famously dubbed “social music” — calls it “true world music, in that it is music for all people, no matter where you’re from.” He adds, “By tastefully blending together generations of culture, on ‘Passport’ the Huntertones have crafted a truly universal offering with an underlying message of unity and celebration.”