The Hammond Organ. Ask anyone who has played one on the club scene and they'll tell you horror stories about jacking the B3 up fire escapes or removing doorframes; not to mention the instrument's sheer weight, alone. No question, the Hammond is a super heavy organ.
Then there's what's under the hood. There are two layers of keys, four sets of drawbars, and eighteen changeable presets, creating a sound that arguably smokes any modern instrument. You need a virtuoso sitting behind the Hammond or, somehow, it doesn't erupt in those fat, bubbly tones, or in those long glissandos that rip the paint off the wall.
"I just love the instrument," Robert Walter enthuses. He knows the mantle he wears when he plays the Hammond and the Leslie. He knows the lineage, which, in no particular order, includes Jimmy Smith, Brother Jack McDuff, Jimmy McGriff, and newcomers like Joey DeFrancesco. Walter wasn't born behind an organ; in fact, he began gigging with a piano and a Fender Rhodes. The story goes that he wanted something more powerful, wider in bandwidth-something...heavier.
Robert Walter's Super Heavy Organ
Robert Walter is the definitive soul-jazz organist of his generation. His latest project, Super Heavy Organ, was recorded in his new hometown of New Orleans. One cannot help but wonder why he waited until recently to relocate from his native West Coast to the Crescent City, with its musical history rich in both classic jazz and dirty loose limbed funk. "I had been performing in New Orleans for years. As a kid I was obsessed with the music coming out of this city. I made a decision to come here and experience it first hand. It's the best move I have ever made. I have been lucky enough to record an album with some of my favorite musicians, people who have influenced me," remarks Walter. The new release is a collaboration with some of the city's most respected musicians, including drummers Stanton Moore and Johnny Vidacovich, bassist James Singleton, tenor saxophonist Tim Green and guest vocalist Anthony Farrell. They recorded live in the studio with a decidedly rough edged sound to capture the raw spontaneity of the performances. The interactions between the young leader and his veteran band mates are mutually inspired. "My concept was not to imitate New Orleans music of the past, but to infuse the tradition with my own ideas," he describes. The resulting music is both exploratory and modern while maintaining its ties to the heritage of jazz. It is unquestionably innovative and funky at the same time.