By Brian F. Johnson
Creating music is a dance of sorts. But creating multiple musical projects all at once, across different genres with different players under varying time frames is a ballet, and Robert Walter is proving that he has the skills of a Bolshoi Danseur Nobel.
Through his work as a founding member of Greyboy Allstars, the leader of his own band, Robert Walter’s 20th Congress, and his ongoing studio work as a film scorer, Walter never ceases leaping from project to project. Luckily for him, the majority of his collaborators share his penchant for constant fluctuation.
“I’ve been working on score music with Mike Andrews, the guitar player of Greyboy Allstars — he’s called Elgin Park in that band. We work in the studio every day in his house and when we finally had time off between films we decided to record all of these songs,” Walter said in a recent interview with The Marquee. Those songs are tracks that Walter has been kicking around for some time, and when they are released mid-year in 2013, they will form Get Thy Bearings, the 20th Congress’s first album in nine years.
The album took less than a week to record, but it’s a project that’s been in the works for years. “This record got shelved while we became busy with other film projects,” Walter said. “So we recorded it real quick. It took maybe five days in all, and then we had been waiting to mix it and to wait and see what songs were going to make it. So now it’s finally all mixed and done.”
The songs for this album, Walter said, were, like the project itself, kicked around for some time, but came from the same batch of tunes that Walter wrote for the forthcoming Greyboy Allstars album due in early April, 2013. “I usually go through fits and spurts with my writing,” he said. “I won’t come up with anything for months and then in the span of a couple weeks, I’ll get multiple ideas. While I was writing material for this album I was also writing music for the Greyboy Allstars album. Some of the tunes ended up on mine and some on Greyboy. The simple way as to how it played out was all the vocal stuff ended up on the Greyboy record and all of the more instrumental stuff that we could stretch out on, ended up on my album.”
When it came time to record, Walter followed the trend that he and his cohorts have been on for the past many years — complete and open sharing. “We did this recording with drummer Aaron Redfield and with Elgin on bass and guitar and with Elgin producing. Then we had our sax player ‘Cheme’ [Cochemea Gastelum] and Karl D. and the percussion player for Greyboy on some tracks, too. It’s this trend we’ve been doing for years. I’ve recorded with Stanton Moore and the whole New Orleans crew and the guys from GBA, and we’ve been on Karl’s album and they were on my solo album. They all feed each other,” he said.
The album, Walter said, is a return to his roots of funk, and a loose recording that focuses more on flow rather than specific note-perfect playing. “It’s a lot like the funk records I liked when I was growing up. It’s more live in the room than the last 20th Congress record. I’m very interested in capturing a performance and not trying to fix every mistake. It’s done quickly, without a lot of fuss about stuff. It’s about getting that great take between players, with some interaction, and great things happen,” he said.
Get Thy Bearings won’t be released until early summer 2013, giving time for the Greyboy Allstars album to be released in early April, without overlap.
When Walter brings the 20th Congress to Cervantes’ this month, the show will be part of the club’s ongoing celebration of its 10th anniversary. Walter played the opening night of Cervantes’ a decade ago and he said that he remembers it being a great night. “I feel the vibe of that club has always been conducive to playing good music,” he said.
:: Robert Walter’s 20th Congress ::
:: Aggie Theatre :: January 24 ::
:: Cervantes’ Masterpiece Ballroom ::
:: January 25 ::
:: Boulder Theater – Mountain Sun’s 19 Years of Funky Good Times :: January 26 ::
Recommended if you Like:
• Greyboy Allstars
• Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe