Artist: Robert Walter’s 20th Congress
Genre: Soul Jazz, Funk
Quality: mp3, 320 kbps
Nerva And Dumbo (00:05:12)
13Th Key (00:04:21)
Chalk Giant (00:04:27)
Current Futures (00:04:37)
Most Of All Of Us (00:06:03)
Electric Blanket (00:00:57)
Our fascination with worlds beyond ours has permeated literature and art for as long as Man has peered deep into the night sky. But perhaps at no other time when our excitement and interest about outer space was as jacked as when the US was putting guys on the moon in the late 60s-early 70s. Founding Greyboy Allstars keyboardist Robert Walter’s brand of soulful funk-jazz has already drawn from that era for his inspiration for his vintage brand of body movement music, and now he is looking outward — literally — for more muse for his music.
Spacesuit goes further to encapsulate that groovy feeling when The Mod Squad and Laugh-In ruled the TV….not to mention Lost In Space and Star Trek. It’s a very logical extension of his previous 20th Congress records and he doesn’t disturb those grooves so much as he merely lends a theme to them.
When we last checked in on Walter’s 20th Congress outfit for Get Thy Bearings, he had a much different lineup in his band. But the turnover hadn’t altered Walter’s vision much, and he boasts a crew of seasoned vets to back him up, starting with Billy Preston’s old bassist Victor Little. Add to that drummer Simon Lott (Charlie Hunter) and guitarist Chris Alford (Cassandra Wilson) and this could be the best ever Congress to convene.
Certainly, the cuts on Spacesuit seem to bear out that promise. The hip-shaking “Nerva and Dumbo” mates Alford’s guitar closely to Walter’s Rhodes with hints of Indian percussion. Walter constructs “Posthuman” around a space-y Moog riff, slathers on the organ and Rhodes and entrusts Lott and Little to hold down a mad, modish beat. The rollicking “13th Key” makes good use of a Mellotron and while Walter jams away on an electric piano, Lott goes off like, natch, a rocket.
“Emanate” is how to describe what Walter’s piano does on this song, along with dreamy synth backing to form a celestial sonic scenery. Good, old fashioned hand clapping accentuate the beats of “Chalk Giant,” and Alford and Walter pairing up on the rock riff complete the picture of a well-executed plan for an infectious party tune. “Current Futures” is a venture into dub electronica, while “Most Of All Of Us” returns to Walter’s Hammond-led acid jazz, propelled by an insistent synth pulse while topping it all off with a couple of lively piano solos.
Looking to the future simply seems more fun when seen from the viewpoint of the past. Then again, Robert Walter’s 20th Congress was always about making fun party music out of jazz; Spacesuit — now released from Royal Potato Family — just takes it out to the final frontier.
by S. Victor Aaron