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Where Fusion and Tradition Meet

Doug Collette By

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In the realm of contemporary jazz, drummer Denny Seiwell is a relatively new returnee after an extended stint as member of Paul McCartney's Wings, while keyboardist Robert Walter is long-time occupant of a self-created niche where he acts as bandleader when not in his charter member role in the Greyboy Allstars or collaborating with the likes of Phish's Mike Gordon on his latest solo project. Both these principals share an appetite for invention with the musicians who work with them on their respective records, the results of which are near-continuous exchanges of ideas no doubt as inspiring for their creators as for those who listen.

Robert Walter's 20th Congress
Royal Potato Family

Despite Spacesuit's clear antecedents-Herbie Hancock circa Sextant (Columbia, 1973)-the current incarnation of Robert Walter's 20th Congress transcends its influences over the course of a half an hour's playing time. Thanks to the insistent rhythm section of drummer Simon Lott and bassist Victor Little, the funk factor is a major resemblance, but the comparison's apt in terms of sound quality too: whether the prominent instrument is Walter's electric piano and organ or the percussion Mike Dillon adds on four cuts, there's a tactile presence in this recording recorded by Nick Guttmann, mixed by Steve Kaye and mastered by Dave Cooley.

Chris Alford's guitar, however, is the crucial distinction on this album because, whether he's soloing or chording, the prominence of his instrument adds the rock element to this combustible fusion with jazz.

Denny Seiwell Trio
Quarto Valley Records

While not altogether different in its instrumental lineup, this configuration of guitar, organ and drums resides in a decidedly more traditional jazz realm than its companion piece. Unlike this trio's predecessor, Reckless Abandon (Embark Music, 2011), Boomerang features more originals than covers, the latter of which includes Eddie Harris' "Cold Duck Time" alongside an inventive reworking. of "Live and Let Die," written by Seiwell's former Wings bandleader. Denny Seiwell put his jazz career on hold when hired by the ex-Beatle, but the deft empathy he shares with his bandmates here suggests he never truly lost his touch for spontaneity: as close to the generic as is the threesome's output sometimes, it more often a pleasure to hear the vigorous interplay these three simpatico players over the course of this near-sixty minutes.

Tracks and Personnel

Spacesuit #1

Tracks: Spacesuit; Nerva & Dumbo; Posthuman; 13th Key; Emanate; Modifier; Chalk Giant; Current Futures; Most Of All Of Us.

Personnel: Robert Walter: piano, electric piano, organ, clavinet, synthesizers, programming; Chris Alford: guitar; Simon Lott: drums, percussion; Victor Little: bass; Mike Dillon: percussion


Tracks: Cheetahs & Gazelles; Amber; Live & Let Die; Curumim; Midnight Meatballs; April child; I Fall In Love Too Easily; Muster the Gumption; Cold duck time; Cascades of the 7 Waterfalls; Baby Mama; Dropping Darkness.

Personnel: Joe Bagg: organ; John Chiodini: guitar; Denny Seiwell: drums.



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