70 degrees, it was a more than perfect day in Seattle. I couldn’t think of anything I’d rather do on Mother’s Day than get down to some hearty and soulful funk music. This was Robert Walter’s second appearance in Seattle in the past month; previously he packed Chop Suey on Capitol Hill, played the infamous Jazz And Heritage Festival in New Orleans, and has returned once again with a different group of musicians. Walter, for those of you who aren’t familiar with who’s hip to the jazz-funk music scene, is the composer, keyboardist, and bandleader of Robert Walter's 20th Congress.

On jazz guitar was Melvin Sparks, who made his name in the late sixties and early seventies when he appeared on soul jazz and organ combo recordings. Watching Walter and Sparks interact back and forth with one another as they carried out duos was entertaining, I surely thought one would get behind or ahead of the other, but the two maintained the same beat and the crowd’s energies were raised as heels began to clank.

A member of the prominent Jack Meduff Organ Group of the middle 1960’s, tenor saxophonist Red Holloway seemed to be enjoying himself center stage. After asking whom in the crowd had seen tonight’s ballgame, he sang the one tune of the evening which contained lyrics, entitled “Hot Nuts.” Holloway had the audience laughing hysterically during this humorous blues tune. His extensive saxophone solos throughout the evening were very impressive.

Stanton Moore is best known for his work with Galactic, but has recently come out with a solo album called Flyin’ The Koop. Moore did more than keep the beat on the drums, like Walter he seemed thrilled to be playing with this fine group of musicians. During a song called “Texas Twister” he had quite the drum solo, followed by several minutes of jamming with the other band members. Moore and Holloway played some impressive duets, feeding off each other and working together extremely well.

I asked my friend, “Why does that bass have six strings,” and discovered the bass Chuck Rainey was playing is actually called a jazz bass, which was an entirely new concept to me. Throughout the night, Rainey maintained a steady tempo and stood strong. This man came to prominence anchoring the road bands of Aretha Franklin on electric bass.

This current short tour was in honor of Walter’s most recent album, There Goes The Neighborhood. The ensemble is referred to as the “There Goes The Neighborhood Band,” and the tour and album of the same name are according to Walter, “A kind of a joke on the idea that I am a younger player moving into recording and playing with all these established artists.” It was apparent Walter felt honored to play with the group of musicians, displaying his appreciation by mentioning what a privilege it was for him to be playing with the group.

The only disappointment of the evening was when the band walked off stage around midnight, and I was sure it was set break. However, I realized they weren’t taking a set break because they had just said, “Goodnight Seattle.” Walter announced he’d be signing cd’s after the show, and the band encored with the popular P. Hampton tune, “Hamp’s Hump.” Expressing my disappointment about the length of the show to my girlfriend, she reminded me that “Some of those musicians ARE older guys, and they did play very HARD the entire time they were on stage.”

Moore was also signing cd’s, and I bought the Robert Walter’s album called Money Shot so I could get Walter’s John Hancock. Indeed, I have a souvenir from this unforgettable evening. To see this stellar combination of musicians from different generations gather for the first and perhaps only time was more than an honor.

Marissa R Tabak
JamBase | Seattle
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[Published on: 5/14/02]

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