Steve Hunt is an American keyboardist who has performed live and on record with Allan since 1987 up to around 1994, appearing on the albums "Secrets", "Wardenclyffe Tower", "Hard Hat Area" and "Then". In addition, they perform together on tracks from Steve' solo album "From Your Heart And Your Soul" and David Hines "Nebula". Steve also recorded a solo piano version of "Funnels" for his solo album, as well as rerecording his tune "Dodgy Boat" under the name "Belle Facia". Steve reunited with Allan for Allan's last gigs in April 2017, and has performed Holdsworth material on later tribute gigs, and live with Virgil Donati's band.
- 1 Steve Hunt (English Tour Program 1989)
- 2 The Unreachable Star (Guitar World 1989)
- 3 Guitarist's Guitarist (Jazz Times 1989)
- 4 Allan Holdsworth’s Untold Secrets + Worthy Quotes (Guitar Player 1990)
- 5 The Reluctant Guitarist (Jazz Journal 1992)
- 6 Creating Imaginary Backdrops (Innerviews 1993)
- 7 Allan Holdsworth: An interview (Atavachron 1994)
- 8 Allan Holdsworth Jam (Jazziz 1994)
- 9 Allan Holdsworth Interview (richardhallebeek.com 1996)
- 10 Whisky Galore (Guitarist 2000)
- 11 Audiostreet Featured Artists (Audiostreet 2000)
- 12 Allan Holdsworth interview (Abstract Logix 2004)
Steven Hunt was born on the 28th August 1958 in Oklahoma. During his formative years he learned music from various members of his family, including his mother, brother and father who was an eminent saxophonist.
At eighteen he went to the Berklee School of Music in Boston Massachusetts, to study keyboards formally, graduating in 1979, the same year as his marriage to Gina.
Having played in a succession of local bands with top musicians from the Boston area, including Japanese trumpeter Tiger Okoshi and guitarist Randy Roos, Steven left Boston in 1984 for six months to tour with Billy Cobham. Shortly after that he became the musical director for a touring show called The Jazz Explosion, which involved artists such as Phyllis Hyman, Randy Lewis and Stanley Clarke.
At the end of this he spent three years playing in Stanley Clarke’s band and played keyboards on two tracks from his 1988 album ‘If Only This Bass Could Talk’. A 1987 European tour with Stanley brought him into contact with Allan Holdsworth, whose own band was performing the same dates. Allan asked Steven if he was available to record and tour with him, which he describes as "a dream come true". I’ve been listening to Allan Holdsworth for years and I couldn’t believe it was happening to me.
The collaboration resulted in Steven playing on two tracks from ‘Secrets’ - Joshua, which he wrote and Maid Marion which he co-wrote with Allan. "I wrote the melody and Allan said it reminded him of old English folk music, and so hence the Robin Hood connection."
Steven flew to Los Angeles on 23rd October for a rehearsal with Allan and Jimmy Johnson on the 24th prior to the first dates of the tour on the 29th. "Every tour with Allan is the same", he says." But it all seems to come together in time because I’m working with great musicians and proud to be a part of it".
Straight after this tour he’s going into a recording studio with long-time collaborator Louis Robertson. They’ve been working together since 1982, but this will be the first time they’ve released a record together. On top of this, Steven has his own instrumental band in Boston called The Rhythm Dogs, with Bruce Bartlett and Marty Richards amongst others.
At home, and away from music, Steven and Gina have three children - Joshua aged eight, Andy who’s six and Lacey who at four is the youngest.
All three seem to follow in their father’s footsteps, and Joshua has already begun taking piano lessons, frequently preferring his dad’s synthesisers and drum machines to more conventional eight-year olds’ toys. Joshua is also on the verge of taking up the drums and professes a desire to be a scientist. Lacey meanwhile is taking dance lessons, something Steven actively encourages because he feels it’s important for his children to be involved in the arts. Away from life on the road, Steven admits he’s a househusband, due to Gina’s full-time employment...
"I don’t know how the maestro puts up with me," whispers keyboardist Steve Hunt, on loan from Stanley Clarke’s band and in a feverish composing and improvising dutymode for this project. "I just kind of schmutz around a bit, and then he comes in and does a real solo." Bass wizard Jimmy Johnson shakes his hung head as he listens to a second-take of his own section: lyrical, confident - and hopelessly unsatisfactory. He vows to "stay after school" to fix the mess.
If I’ve written something, it’s a very specific thing, and I want it to be a certain way. Even though someone else could play it, they might not play it exactly as you heard it, whereas if you’re playing it yourself - not that it’s any better - it’s going to be specific. And that’s really important. Even though Steve’s new tune "Joshua" sounds really open, it’s actually very specific in terms of the voicings and what he wanted to hear in the accompaniment. And in that instance, you let the guy do his thing. To serve that, we did that take live.
With or without large label interest in his career, Holdsworth is moving forward enthusiastically. He is particularly excited about the new album. Secrets, which features L.A. All Star drummer Vinnie Colaiuto [sic] on drums, Jimmy Johnson, his regular bassist, Steve Hunt (a drummer playing keyboards on Maid Marion his own piece), with Chad Wackerman (his regular drummer) also playin on one of the tracks.
"The guys all played incredibly. I was really moved by what they did. Among some of the highlights noted by Holdsworth are drummer Gary’ Husband’s City Nights (Very nice," says Holdsworth; "with good chord progressions."); Steve Hunt’s Maid Marian [sic] ("When he first presented it to us it reminded me of something from Old England, like Robin Hood, but it was quite soft so we renamed it Maid Marian."); Endomorph, a solo piece in which Holdsworth dubs guitar over Synth-Axe; Spokes ("I really liked bicycling riding when I was a kid, and this piece reminded me of it - of wheelies, actually."); 54 Duncan Terrace (This was the address of a really great piano player friend of mine who died a few years ago. He had this wonderful room in his house.. A white room with blue clouds painted on it or maybe it was vice versa And he had this old Bluthner piano in there. The music he used to write was soft and gentle, with colorful harmonics. And I wrote the piece for him. The chord sequen ce sort of reminds me of something he would have done.").
He’s right on the first and last accounts. This band - drummers Colaiuta, Husband, or Wackerman, Johnson, and keyboardist Steve Hunt - is one of the most vital rotating units in electric jazz, and their breathtaking performances stand tall in Allan’s crystalline production. From the rich ambience of the drums and Johnson’s 5-st’ring Alembic all the way down to the Spaten Franziskaner ale Allan pours as a spirited coda to "City Nights," Secrets is a rich, deep collection of adventurous music that features some of the guitarist’s most dramatic electric work, and some of the most expressive guitar-synthesis to be encountered anywhere.
Steve Hunt, who wrote this and "Joshua," has really got his own sound, and I often try to use a patch to complement him. When we’ve done this track live, I kind of ripped off one of his patches because I didn’t have anything else that sounded any better. I might flounder a bit, but most of the time, I stay away from anything that sounds like a keyboard. I won’t use any piano-type patches, and Steve almost always has a little piano-type patch somewhere in there. They may be less distinguishable on that track than on others, but it didn’t bother me, because the solo sections were really open. We just had that one pedal C, and when he was playing the intro chords, I was playing the melody.
‘I don’t play chromatically at all, no, because I try not to. Steve Hunt, our keyboard player, always calls that "dusting" cause it’s just like cleaning the keys, sweeping your hand over the keys. If something chromatic comes out of my playing, it’s usually because of another motion, or an internal motion. Like say playing up a bunch of triads starting on G then going down by semitones through F# and F. If you’re thinking about using other scales to get from one place to another, or superimposing triads on top of other things, then there’s bound to be notes that are next to each other somewhere. Maybe people hear that as chromatic, but I try really hard to avoid that.
‘That’s the way I’ve always felt about the guys in the band, or the guys I’ve played with, like Gary (Husband) and Jimmy (Johnson) and Steve Hunt. They’re all such great musicians, and as far as I’m concerned they’re right up there with the best guys in the world. The music is mostly improvised, and we play over reasonably complicated chord sequences. And I still think that in essence it’s kinda jazz, even though we came up from different things.
Steve Hunt [keyboardist] plays a much larger role on Wardenclyffe Tower than on Secrets.
I think it depends how long someone’s been around in the band. Also, I was using the Synthaxe a lot more back then, which almost negates the role the keyboard player has. After all, he’s gonna be doing something similar with textures. Back then with the Synthaxe, I was able to do that on my own, and that’s basically what happened. And this last album, I only used the Synthaxe on two tracks. I didn’t use it much.
Your next album completes your Restless contract, right?
I’m gonna deliver it as soon as I can, but as to when they put it out, it’s up to them. But once I deliver it, that’s it for me with Restless. So, that’s another reason I was thinking about doing the solo album—something like the Music For Imaginary Films record. A compositional type of record. At the same time, I don’t want to just do that if it’s not the right time. I’ve been working on music for a new band album, and I want to do that with the existing band, which is Gary Husband, Steve Hunt and Skuli Skeverson. So, unfortunately, the money that they’re paying me isn’t enough for me to pay all of these guys to do it even though I know they’ll work for nothing, because they’ve done it before. It’s just really hard for me to ask them to do that. So, it’s a tough one, shall I do the band album even though the guys have offered to do it free, or shall I do the solo album because that’s basically all they’re paying for? Either way I’m going to do the best job I can. That’s the other thing. It might be great to hold back on the band album and give it to another label.
CH: Really? That was probably the most difficult on "Hard Hat Area" for you to play?
AH: Well, we didn’t do it live first, you know; all the other tunes, we did. And the reason we didn’t do it live was, it was mostly... it was pretty difficult. I couldn’t get through half a chorus without screwing up! It’s an extremely long chord sequence, you know. I’m sure there’s some genius out there that could play through it the first time, but I was struggling with it, and it was good to know that some of the other guys in the band-oh, Steve [Hunt], who soloed in it, was having the same problems I was. It kind of goes where you don’t think [it will] -- it trips you up.
Holdsworth’s recorded output belies this self-deprecating comment. Though Hard Hat Area has the title of a work in progress, its sound, like a typical Holdsworth project, is carefully finished. The album is a cohesive package that highlights the band as well as the man up front, and it features drummer Gary Husband (a longtime Holdsworth compadre), keyboardist Steve Hunt, and the dexterous Icelandic bassist Skuli Sverrison.
The germ of an idea for the title track of Hard Hat Area, a sequencer-driven, mechanistic construct, came during a Japanese tour. Holdsworth admired the work ethic of a huge construction crew erecting a skyscraper. "That stuck in my memory, seeing all these guys, quite organized and doing this work," he says, "In my mind, I could see a Super Mario version of the process. What I wanted to do was write a cartoon tune.
-On your new album, the band exists of Gary Willis-Bass, Kirk Covington-Drums and Gordon Beck- Piano. This is a different band than you normally use. Why didn’t you use your own band?
I did a compilation album a few years ago where guitar players did their rendition of Beatle Tunes. When they called me I had two days left to prepare something. Coincidently, Gordon Beck, a good friend of mine and a great piano player was staying for a few weeks at my place. It was his idea to do a rendition of ‘Michelle’. Now, I’m a big fan of Gary Willis. Especially when he plays swing, he sounds fantastic. I know the conflicts that may arise between bass players and drummers, so I asked him with whom he liked to play and he said Kirk Covington. Funny, because that’s half of Scott Henderson’s band Tribal Tech. We did the song pretty fast and I really liked the way things turned out, so I decided to ask them again for my new album. The problem with my own band is that they’re living spread in all corners of the world. Chad Wackerman is currently living in Australia, Gary Husband is living in England, Skuli Sverison in New York and Steve Hunt in Boston. I can only get them together for a longer tour.In th e past things turned out pretty OK, but the last tours we didn’t make a dime. I cannot keep asking these people to play for next to nothing. That’s why I have been looking for some musician’s in the neighborhood for some time now. I’m on the right path with Kirk and Gary, but at the same time I realize it’s impossible to find a replacement for somebody like Gary Husband. It’s also about finding a soul mate, somebody who’s on the same wavelenght.’
I’m pleased to see there’s a lot of guitar soloing on the new record.
"Well the last band album I did was ‘Hard Hat Area’ and we had Steve Hunt on keyboards and that fills out things sonically. On my solo records I would often play the SynthAxe to fill out some of that missing sound, but I’ve been consciously trying to lower the SynthAxe content, isolating it to one or two tracks on a record. So yeah, more guitar."
"It wasn’t a conscious effort, it was just a nice accident. Because what I wanted to try and do after the last album that I did with Gordon (Beck)"None Too Soon" we played old tunes, so in a way it was my album but I didn’t think of it like it was my album. The last band album I think of was "Hard Hat Area" which was with Gary, Skuli (Sverrisson) and Steve Hunt and right after that album I was thinking I wanted to write some original music, but just put in a different setting, a slightly different setting. And in a way this also happened by accident because I was playing with Dave Carpenter, who introduced me to Gary Novak and we played a lot and we did two tours of Europe with that group and I also knew he played acoustic bass.
Fan: What projects have you been working on recently aside from your own music?
AH: I’ve recorded on a couple tracks with bassist Dave Hines. Steve Hunt plays on that project. There are other projects in the works, but I’ll talk about it when they’re finished.