Robert Walter's 1996 debut solo album Spirit of '70 was the second edition in a planned series of solo recordings by individual members of The Greyboy Allstars - the band in which the revered keyboardist was a founding member alongside saxophonist Karl Denson, guitarist Elgin Park, bassist Chris Stilwell and drummer Zak Najor. The concept for recording was to emulate the rotating personnel of the Blue Note and Prestige labels where a rotating cast of musicians would take turns as a leader, drawing on the others as sidemen. Each album would also feature a guest from the previous generation that had been influential to The Greyboy Allstars' sound. For Spirit Of '70, legendary alto saxophonist Gary Bartz would join the line-up.
The sessions took place in producer DJ Greyboy's living room-turned studio. Recording in a non-traditional space helped to create a relaxed atmosphere and forced Walter and company to play closely together without much isolation. You can hear the front door open at the beginning of "Impervious" by someone unaware that the band had begun a take. Elgin Park's guitar on the album was recorded through a Caliphone portable record player instead of an amplifier. Aside from instruments and recording gear, the house was filled with mid-century furniture and tons of records. The cover photos were taken in the same space as the recordings.
Declared "can't miss funk" by JazzTimes, the majority of the material recorded for Spirit of '70 had been part of The Greyboy Allstars live sets with Elgin Park, Chris Stilwell and Zak Najor all receiving writing credits, while two of Robert Walter's compositions "Impervious" and "Palilalia" were written specifically for the album. Two tasty covers were also served up: "Jan Jan," a song written by organist Mose Davis of underground Detroit funk stalwarts The Fabulous Counts and "Little Miss Lover," the Jimi Hendrix gem, which nods to the soul jazz tradition of reimagining popular songs from the rock music canon.
Alternating between an array of vintage keyboards, including Fender Rhodes, Wurlitzer, Hammond B3 organ, Clavinet and Mini Moog, Walter leads the band through a supremely inspired set of soul jazz, boogaloo and rare groove. As its title implies, 1970s-inspired funk, in all of it varying colors and forms, sets the stage and burns off the grooves, as it's audibly apparent that the music is being born again in the capable hands of a new generation. Walter and company's youthful exuberance propels the record forward with a wide-eyed, freewheeling innocence as elder statesman Gary Bartz clearly gives his blessing to these 20-something funk purveyors assuming the mantle.
- Limited Edition
- 1st Time On Vinyl Since 1996
- 180g Vinyl LP
- Purple Smoke Vinyl
|Gary Bartz||alto sax/soprano sax|
|Karl Denson||alto sax/tenor sax|
|Elgin Park||electric guitar|
|Chris Stillwell||bass/acoustic bass|
|Robert Walter||clavinet/Fender Rhodes/Mini Moog/Hammond organ/electric piano/Wurlitzer|
- Volcanic Acne
- Corry's Snail And Slug Death
- Bidi Man
- Kick To The Head, Burrito On The Floor
- Little Miss Lover
- Jan Jan