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Band of the Week: The Joe Hunter Trio 

Meet the band: Joe Hunter (piano), Glenn Davis (drums), Demetrius Steinmetz (bass).

The piano man: A Cleveland native, Joe Hunter started playing professionally in the late '70s. "I grew up in a house where there was a lot of good music and a lot of jazz," he says. "I went to Cleveland Heights High, which had a good jazz program. There were good musicians there and many of us have stayed in the game."

A string thing: The string quartet is to classical music what the piano trio is to jazz. They're both the most popular chamber groups. Hunter wanted to bring the two together; that's the concept behind his new album, Sweet and Lovely, which he released on the local label JWP Records. "It was quite exciting and a little intimidating to record with strings," he says. "We did it at the new Oberlin Conservatory building. Michael Bishop, who was with Telarc for years, recorded and engineered the whole thing. He did it as a favor to [string arranger] Dick Wooley. That was another exciting thing about the project."

Why you should hear him: Songs such as "It Had to Be You" and "But Beautiful" work nicely with the string arrangements and have a real elegance to them. "The record has a great sound because Michael Bishop certainly knows what he's doing," says Hunter. "We did it live and that was really scary. We didn't overdub anything. We were old school."

Where you can hear him: joehunterjazz.com

Where you can see him: The Joe Hunter Trio performs at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 5, at Nighttown.

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