Robert Walter (musician)
||This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (April 2011)|
Walter performing The Greyboy Allstars at the Hangout Music Festival in 2012
|Birth name||Robert Walters|
|Origin||New Orleans, San Diego|
|Genres||Jazz, Funk, Soul Jazz|
|Instruments||Hammond B3 organ, piano, keyboards|
|Labels||Fog City Records|
|Associated acts||Robert Walter's 20th Congress, The Greyboy Allstars, VW Duo, Creedle, Stanton Moore Trio|
|Website||Fog City Records presents: Robert Walter|
Robert Walter (born 1969) is a keyboard player specializing in instrumental soul jazz on the Hammond B3 organ. He is a founding member of The Greyboy Allstars, and has since led his own band Robert Walter's 20th Congress.
Robert Walter has built a reputation as one of America's heaviest jazz-funk keyboardists. As a founding member of The Greyboy Allstars, he toured throughout North America and Europe with the group for five years. and has performed and recorded with such jazz and funk heavyweights as Fred Wesley, Gary Bartz, Skerik, Melvin Sparks, Andy Bey, Reuben Wilson, Harvey Mason, Red Holloway, Chuck Rainey, Phil Upchurch, Mike Clark, Johnny Vidacovich and Steve Kimock.
At the age of 30, Robert left the Greyboy Allstars and formed a new band, Robert Walter's 20th Congress. The group featured Robert on electric piano and Hammond B3 organ, Cochemea "Cheme" Gastelum on alto sax, electric sax and flute, Chris Stillwell on bass and Stanton Moore on drums. The 20th Congress released their debut full-length recording Money Shot on San Francisco's Fog City Records in 2000.
Walter moved from his native San Diego to New Orleans in 2003, and subsequently reunited with producer Dan Prothero to record Super Heavy Organ with local legends Johnny Vidacovich, James Singleton, Tim Green, and Stanton Moore.
In Spring of 2013, the Greyboy Allstars return to the road with Inland Emperor, their first album since 2007’s What Happened to Television?, but a recent move from New Orleans to Los Angeles has also jump-started Robert Walter’s 20th Congress, an outlet for the keyboardist’s funkiest material since its inception in 1999. Get Thy Bearings pushes Walter’s organ, piano, Rhodes and synthesizer to the front of a group rounded out by guitarist/bassist Elgin Park, drummer Aaron Redfield, sax players Karl Denson and Cochemea Gastelum, and percussionist Chuck Prada—an all-star lineup in its own right. Recorded in just a few takes at Elgonix Labs—the same studio where Walter has lent his skills to Get Thy Bearings producer Michael Andrews' film scores and productions—the album is full of raw boogaloo energy and cinematic color.
Since returning to LA, Walter has been on a creative hot streak. “I’ll have dry spells for a few months then go on a binge of writing, working every day,” he says. "Some looser ideas ended up on the Greyboy Allstars album because I expected collaboration from the other members of the band. The material that was more developed from the start went on mine." Playing on film scores has widened the conceptual palate of Walters work. “They’re templates to improvise on, but they also tell a story,” Walter says of the nine tracks, ranging from the Sly Stone-style soul vamp of “Little Business” to the heavy gospel of “Crux.” “Dog Party” might as well be the theme song to a cartoon of the same name, while “Don’t Chin the Dog” shifts from delicate shuffle to horn-drenched boogaloo. Things get eerie on “Up From the Skies,” a Jimi Hendrix cover rendered nearly unrecognizable in washes of electric Miles. Similarly, the album’s title track is a shrewd reworking of the 1968 Donovan tune Walter first discovered on compilation of sample-friendly breakbeats, full of fuzz guitar and a mercurial organ solo.
“All these things just crept into the record,” he says. “It’s my own voice, not so imitative anymore.” This same type of immediacy carried over into the way the band tracked the record, all at once in the same room. “A lot of modern music is over-considered, but if you fix every little edge there’s no mystery. We didn’t monkey around too much, just indulged in our musicalness.” It’s the same commitment that has made Walter such a live force. In April, it was announced that Robert would be joining Phish's Mike Gordon as his keyboard/organ player.
Discography (as leader)
- Spirit Of '70 - Greyboy Records, 1996 [with Gary Bartz]
- Health And Fitness - 1999 [with the 20th Congress]
- Money Shot - Fog City Records, 2000 [with the 20th Congress]
- There Goes The Neighborhood - Premonition (Emd), 2001 [Solo]
- Giving Up The Ghost - Magna Carta Records, 2003 [with the 20th Congress]
- Super Heavy Organ - Magna Carta Records, 2005 [with Super Heavy Organ]
- Cure All - Palmetto, June 2008
- Get Thy Bearings- Royal Potato Family Records, 2013 [with the 20th Congress]
Discography (as a sideman)
- The Clinton Administration - Magna Carta Records, 2004 with The Clinton Administration
- III - Telarc, 2006 with Stanton Moore
- Emphasis! (On Parenthesis) - Telarc, 2008 with Stanton Moore
- Groove Alchemy - Telarc International, 2010 with Stanton Moore & Will Bernard
- Mike Gordon - Overstep - ATO Records, 2014
Discography (with the GreyBoy Allstars)
- West Coast Boogaloo with Fred Wesley - Greyboy Records, 1995
- A Town Called Earth - Greyboy Records, 1997
- GBA Live - Relaxed Records/Ada Records, 1999
- What Happened to Television?, 2007
- Inland Emperor , 2013
Discography (with Creedle)
- Half Man Half Pie - Cargo Music/Headhunter Records, 1992
- Silent Weapons for Quiet Wars - Cargo Music/Headhunter Records, 1994
- When the Wind Blows - Cargo Music/Headhunter Records, 1996
- Wickstrom, Ann. "Robert Walter: Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 7 April 2011.
- liner notes
- Official Site
- Fog City Records presents: Robert Walter
- Allmusic biography
- Robert Walter's 20th Congress collection at the Internet Archive's live music archive
- Interview with Robert Walter on Aural States (Oct 2008)