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On his new record, "Giving Up the Ghost", Robert Walter has added a new talent to his recording lineup. Known for his work with such jazz/soul/funk giants as Mike Clark of Herbie Hancock's Headhunters, legendary James Brown and P-Funk sideman and songwriter, Fred Wesley, and George Porter of the Meters, this time out Walter enlisted another player for his latest album -- the studio. "I collect records. I'm into recordings," says Walter. "From doing home recordings, I started experimenting with different sounds, and I decided I wanted to do something more interesting than just record the band. On this album, I tried using the studio as an instrument. It's involved in the music and an important part of making this record what it is. I move things around, change elements. On some tracks, there's no soloing at all, and all of the solos are downplayed in favor of creating a mood, a sonic texture." Joined by Joe Russo and George Sluppick on drums; Greyboy Allstar Chris Stillwell and Black-Eyed Pea Mike Fratantuno on bass; Will Bernard (of TJ Kirk fame) on guitar; percussionist Chuck Prada, and long-time partner Cochemea Gastelum on alto sax and various woodwinds, Walter explores new territory, incorporating elements of electronic music and dub reggae into his traditional Ramp;B and jazz roots, all powered by the flavor of his vintage Fender Rhodes and Hammond B-3 organ. The result is a new hybrid that's distinctly Robert Walter, which is to say, the sound combines just about every form of music into a driving, syncopated groove that will move fans of jazz, soul, blues, roots rock and, yes, those ever-in-motion jam band dance fanatics.
"I've always been interested in anything that deals with rhythm and improvisation," says Walter. "Anything that combines is satisfying to me. It doesn't necessarily have to fit into one genre or another. This new record is definitely an attempt to bring in some modern influences."
Walter's eclectic musical roots trace back to his San Diego home town, where he broke into the business doing blues dates with his stepfather, a working bar band musician. From there, he expanded into a series of bands that played everything from George Clinton to electronic punk, constantly experimenting and searching for new sounds while staying true to the primal elements of the Booker T and Ramsey Lewis records he grew up on. Then came the epiphany that brought it all together. "There was a bar in San Diego called the Green Circle Bar," Walter recalls. "I had gotten a call from a friend of mine about doing this project for this guy, DJ Greyboy, who spun old records, basically like '60s and '70s jazz records. I went into the place and heard all this music and quickly realized that I had been wanting to hear that music all along but didn't know where it was." Walter soon found out. He became an original member of the Greyboy Allstars, a band whose explosive improvisations made them the a founding father of the acid-jazz revolution of the mid-90s and a force in live music around the world. In 1996 he released his first solo album, "Spirit of 70". Since then constant touring and recording with his band 20th Congress, earning him a place among the keepers of the jazz-soul flame.
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