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Published: 2002/05/11
by Olin Ericksen

Robert Walter and the There Goes the Neighborhood Band, Troubadour, Los Angeles, 5/8

The Youngins
Drums-Stanton Moore (of Galactic Fame- nuf said)
Keys- Robert Walter (of GreyBoy allstars and 20th Congress)
Percussion- Chuck Prada (20th Congress)

The Old Cats
Bass- Chuck Rainey (Aretha Franklin, Sonny Rollins, Donald Byrd)
Sax- Red Holloway (BB King, jack McDuff organ group, Clark Terry)
Guitar- Phil UpChurch (Earth Wind Fire, Willie Dixon, Cannonball Aderly)

Last night, about 200 wide eyed fans came to the Troubadour in West Hollywood
to hear some of the finest tunes this side of Mississippi post-jazz fest. Some of the
young bucks on the Jazz/funk scene were mixing it up with the wise, prolific
performers of a past age. You could see what an honor it was for the young guys to have a chance to play with legends, and the old guard seemed pretty happy about driving a
roomful of young folks nuts with every blistering interchange. Before the show, only
Upchurch and Holloway came out on stage. Each took a seat on a stool and began leafing through their music sheets. These two greats were very calm as the room settled into their seats. One could see they were the essence of cool. Then the rest of the band came out and attention turned to the stage. Robert Walter put it best: "For many of you out there, please think of tonight as the bloody mary to your Jazzfest".
Well, they certainly made it spicy.

They immediately jumped into a couple heavy Boogaloo numbers, more funk than
jazz, as the crowd grew comfortable with the sextet. While these
offerings were funky, the complexities and multiple key
changes made it seem quite a bit like jazz numbers. Straight outta the
gates, Robert Walters lit up his keyboards with some serious solos, but in many
ways he was really just setting a platform for the
older guys to get busy on. I have to say when I first heard Red Holloway go
into his first solo, I felt he was more subdued than say Ben Ellman of
Galactic, but also maybe more poignant. Definitely just a cool, laid back
vibe to his sax. Next up was Phil Upchurch. Now I’m biased toward the
Gee-tar myself, but damn this guy can play! He was on one of the big
jazz guitars, up and down scales on his solos, but it was the way he played
with distortion and his time changes, playing on the off notes and generally
taking it in a dirty, raw, crisp, and complex direction that made me get up
and scream "YOU A BAD MAN!" He seemed to have an old school touch, but felt
at ease amongst the "younger" sounds of Moore and Walters. After all, he’s
been a professional studio musician for years. His professional duties
required that he meld his style to those around him. If for no other reason,
go see There Goes the Neighborhood to see Phil Upchurch pound it out. Chuck
Rainey backed them all up with some subtle bass lines that kept the rhythm
and solos in sync. This is no small task, being that this is a sextet band that
hasn’t toured before and was jumping between and through multiple genres of

About the time I was just comprehending how good Upchurch really is, I look
over to my left, and not a foot from me I saw guitarist Brian Jordan of Karl
Denson’s Tiny Universe, a talent in his own right. He looked like he was
taking mental notes. We were officially in the presence of a group of
musicians’ musicians. He didn’t even take the stage that night. It seemed he
was there just to watch the show, nodding and smiling the whole time. You
could tell that this was entertainment for him, despite the fact it’s his
normal job.

Chuck Prada and Stanton went off on a monster back-and-forth on a couple
Walter’s tunes as the synergy flowed between the two beating
behemoth’s. Prada looks like he’s coming into his own and enjoying it.
Stanton Moore is always a heavy hitter, pulling out creative drumming deep
inside. At one point during Prada’s/Moore’s musical discussion, Stanton
flipped his snare over to get just the right sound. It was kind of a
metallic rasp with the regular snare clap underneath. The amazing thing was
he did this mid-beat. There’s nothing quite like Stanton.

Robert Walter came heavy with the organ strokes. The more I listened, the
more he reminds me of Jimmy Smith but on speed. Walter is
definitely making musical waves. Red Hallaway also
led a Blues-riddled sing-along of "Drink Muddy Water." The sextet attacked
"Green Onion" and slowed it down for a jazz ballad before roaring
back with the final few songs. By this time the place was in a frenzy like a
Baptist church on a monster gospel Sunday. Pretty intense. About 2 hours
after the magic started, they finished up and sat at the edge of the stage
talking to people. All in all, it was a solid show with spirit, soul, and
gumption. So if even if you don’t have a jazzfest hangover, I promise you
will thoroughly enjoy this blend of Bloody Mary. Go see these guys!

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