Having formed almost fifteen years ago in 1993, The Greyboy AllStars are an urban myth of sorts. Their early forays into funk flowed throughout the jamband scene that coalesced in the mid-to-late 1990s, which is where the principals of the quintet found a name for themselves. Now hornman Karl Denson (leader of Tiny Universe) and keyboardist Robert Walter (head of 20th Congress) are principals (though only slightly more so than their peers) of the first Greyboy AllStars studio recording in a decade.
What Happened to Television? extends the original concept of the band as a collective of young turks parlaying old school funk. "V Neck Sweater' immediately calls to mind the classic sound of King Curtis and Jr Walker, while "Left Coast Boogaloo, appropriate to its geographical and musical roots, is reminiscent, but not derivative of, middle-period Crusaders. The cryptically titled (as are many of the tracks) "Pigeons Under Water hearkens to Curtis Mayfield's soundtracks such as that of Superfly (Rhino, 1972), and suggests the breadth of influence The Impressions have had on another generation of musicians as well.
Naturally, rhythm predominates on this CD, but it's the contrast of beats the band employs that makes it so intriguing. The rhythm section of bassist Chris Stillwell and drummer Zak Najor dig in hard on "Deck Shoes, as the airy flute of Karl Denson floats back and forth above them. Elgin Park's flinty guitar figures call your attention on the aforementioned "Left Coast Boogaloo before you notice the ultra-smooth Hammond lines of Robert Walter. Is there a more effortless organist than this erstwhile collaborator of Stanton Moore and Bobby Previte?
The vocal tracks interspersed on What Happened to Television? are used like the soloistslargely effectively-as textural contrasts. The wry irony of vocals, then, is not exactly intrusive but the charm in Inara George's voice and the delivery of The Living Sisters is nevertheless no substitute for sound of horns and keyboards. Cuts like "How Glad I Am are purely secondary to the straight instrumentals, while the hokey likes of "Give the Drummer Some More should only be used on stage to introduce the band within a hot club environment.
The DJ from whom this band takes its name acts as producer of the project, only becoming prominent on his turntables on "Old School Cylons. That doesn't mean this music doesn't sound totally contemporary, but you can only hope the reunion of The Grey Boy AllStars isn't merely ephemeral. If they mange to remain stable, they should be able to not just extend a timeless style of music, but eventually forge a style they can truly call their own.
Track Listing: V-neck Sweater; What Happened to TV?; Still Waiting; Deck Shoes; How Glad I Am; Back In The Game; Left Coast Boogaloo; Old School Cylons; Knowledge Room; Pigeons Under Water; Give the Drummer Some More.
Personnel: Robert Walter: keyboards; Elgin Park: guitar, vocals; Karl Denson: saxophone, flute, vocals, percussion; Chris Stillwell: bass, vocals; Zak Najor: drums, percussion, vocals; DJ Greyboy: turntables; Inara George: vocals; The Living Sisters: vocals.
I was first exposed to Jazz when a couple of dear friends of mine turned me onto it around 1971. I was already into Progressive music, R n' B, Soul, Motown, Latin Rock and other styles that were a great ladder to Jazz
I was first exposed to Jazz when a couple of dear friends of mine turned me onto it around 1971. I was already into Progressive music, R n' B, Soul, Motown, Latin Rock and other styles that were a great ladder to Jazz.
Being a Musician myself, (Lead Guitar/Bass Guitar), I studied at the Dick Grove School of Music with Dick Grove, Jeff Richman and Lee Ritenour. This was around '84-'85. I started playing the Guitar in November 1967. Playing Guitar came quite naturally to me thank goodness. Though I spent hours upon hours practicing while my school buddies were doing Sports.
It was in the early '70s that I really got into Jazz, Jazz Rock, Jazz Fusion and World Music. Seeing Weather Report, Miles Davis, Wayne Shorter, Larry Carlton, Steely Dan, John McLaughlin and the Mahavishnu Orchestra, RTF, Herbie Hancock and the Headhunters, VSOP, Freddie Hubbard and so many, many more amazing artists opened my eyes to the beauty and eloquent nature of Jazz. I really love the brilliant ensemble playing that is in Jazz!!
When I play and write music, it blends so many style together. Many fans ask me why my playing sounds so jazzy. It's because I understand Blue Notes, the phrasing, the tonality, time signatures and more. I can also play Rock, Folk, Soul, R n' B and other styles too. I seem to gravitate more and more as I get older to a jazzier style. Currently I'm 62 years old. I have released 2 CDs world-wide. Working on my 3rd.
I also teach Guitar/Bass/Music Theory to my students. They range from 6 years old to much, much older. (I was hired by the City of Aurora, CO to teach ages 6-13 specifically). Currently I teach 41 children in 5 classes. Additionally another 7 private students.
My wife, Meesh, and I love Jazz dearly. It was one of the things that we share together!
Most of the people that I know today do not get jazz. I try to explain what to listen for, but many times the music of Jazz is a bit much for them. So be it.
In a nutshell, I live, breath and listen to Music 24/7. No TV except the Food Channel and Weather.
I love John Kelman's articles. They are so insightful and well-constructed!
Thank you all for doing what you do.