Robert Walter Trio
November 11, 2004
So, who was the newest musical celebrity to move to New Orleans gonna accompany himself with?
Drummer Kevin O'Day. Good choice. He can play anything, catches on quick, will throw Dave Lombardo-ish fills into soul-jazz and make it sound right.
Guitarist Bert Cotton. He's just subtle and elemental enough. Sticks to the funk. June Yamagishi would overpower the trio.
I'm ready to point the finger at myself. I must be spoiled, living in this city so rich with the soul/jazz/funk music. Why didn't I enjoy the concert more? The music was good, maybe even exceptional Thursday night at d.b.a. I remember hoopin' after songs to express my approval and hollerin' right as Cotton began a song with a fat funky lick that heralded something wonderfully grooving and make-you-make-an-ugly-face nasty. I remember tapping my foot a lot. Maybe I didn't enjoy it more because the crowd didn't get halfway into the band until the second to last song of the first set, when it was too late to spur the band and lighten the room so that the set didn't feel like an empty experience.
I got mad at organist Robert Walter when he acknowledged the lack of a crowd and applause by applauding after a song. You're not supposed to show everyone you notice that, I thought. Play your heart out, anyway. It made him look like he could give a shit if people showed up. But, really, why shouldn't a performer be allowed to get mad at the lack of an audience? Why should they always be in the position of the "thank you, master" hunchback. Fuck 'em, maybe. Smoke your cigarette in your suave way.
The band went through a bunch of songs they hadn't played together before. This was the trio's debut, by the way. This was exciting because a lot of unexpected things come out of uncertainty, but some are them are bad. The band wasn't tight, but I grant them clemency. They're lucky they operated in the jazz idiom, where improvisation was expected. If they were a rock band coming out of the garage like that, they'd be dead meat. Did I just admit that I subscribe to labels or am hypocritical?
The slowest the band got was swinging. The fastest and hardest was during the afformentioned nasty stuff, when they locked in with each other and turned out juicy hooks. The best, though, was the middle ground, when the band sounded professionally mixed. A pure, smooth groove that put my head back against the wall. Tune out, hone in, and enjoy.
I look forward to when the band has practiced 'cause I know they'll come with more hooks. Also, I'd like to see them at The Maple Leaf. It's a little louder and more conducive to dancing.