Some funky grooves
Former San Diegan Robert Walter (Greyboy Allstars, Robert Walter's 20th Congress), now based out of New Orleans, finds his organ at the heart of two new releases: his own, and Stanton Moore's. Both are funky and soulful takes on modern jazz, combining a '60s Hammond organ trio approach (think Jimmy Smith or Jimmy McGriff) with New Orleans R∓B and the kind of post-mainstream rock-infused jazz being played by folks like Medeski, Martin & Wood or the Bad Plus.
Moore's album is the harder-driving. Drummer Moore and Walter are joined by guitarist Will Bernard even without a bassist, this album has much of the feel of a loose improvisational jam around simple riffs that marked so much of the better work of Booker T. & the MGs. It's got heavier jazz influences than the legendary MGs ever did, and Walter's organ isn't as prominent on every cut as Booker T.'s was (Bernard gets a nearly equal share of the leads), but that vibe of a group of supremely gifted musicians all on the same page is present throughout.
Walter's own release is also played by a trio in this case, organ-bass-drums. The approach is more firmly rooted in jazz than Moore's, with Walter stepping away from organ to play both a Fender Rhodes and an old-fashioned acoustic piano at times. Without a guitarist to share the load of carrying the melody, Walter's playing is more firmly in the spotlight and he meets the challenge with a much broader array of skills than exhibited on the Moore outing. Stylistically, this album bounces from the R&B of both the Moore album and Walter's own previous releases to pure jazz to some fairly experimental tracks.
Bassist James Singleton and drummer Johnny Vidacovich create a tight foundation for Walter's playing, whether it's the groove-based sounds of "Snakes and Spiders" or "Cure All" familiar to fans of Walter's earlier work, the straight-ahead "Parts and Holes" or the off-kilter acoustic piano jazz of "Coupe." If a bit less consistent than Moore's release, Walter's outing is also far more ambitious.
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