What do you get when three top notch musicians join forces to lock in with each other’s moods and moves – you get The Hit from WRD Trio! I’ve been a long time fan of the respective bands of these three talents – Robert Walter of The Greyboy Allstars and Robert Walter’s 20th Congress, Eddie Roberts of The New Mastersounds and Matador! Soul Sounds, and Adam Deitch of Lettuce and Break Science. Hell, those bands would make a great lineup for a weekend festival. So when I heard about this album, I knew I would dig it and indeed it’s terrific. Start with the album cover with the classic car pic and you know their target was to created a classic album with the traditional organ trio configuration of the likes of Jimmy Smith, Jimmy McGriff, Richard “Groove” Holmes, Barbara Dennerlein, and Soulive.
This trio is so polished and precise as they alternate between cruising along in unison to each taking flight alternately as the lead. Deitch holds it down throughout with Walter and Roberts trading back and forth between leads, solos and accompanying support. The net result for me is a super clean recording, every note with a purpose and a very enjoyable ride. Overall the album has that old school, minimalist stripped-down feel bringing all the great vibes of the late 60s.
Check out the track-by-track rundown below.
Judy, a nickname for Walter’s girlfriend, starts with a quick Walter intro before the trio hits appropriately with a three chord triad and we’re off and running. The first half is a Walter showpiece with Eddie primarily on rhythm guitar. Deitch’s playing is of course on point but much edited from his typically playing with Lettuce. Eddie takes the handoff midway and his semi hollow guitar sound is both funky and bluesy simultaneously. As usual, his tone rides up and down, always bouncy. The three-note header closeout makes this a solid opener.
Sleep Depraved again rolls with Walter at the start. There’s something about this one that sounds so much like a flashback to the late 60s that I can’t quite place but I’ll keep listening to figure it out. There’s a machine-gun like organ sequence that throughout that even jazz organ neophytes (like my wife) can enjoy. Eddie matches the organ first half and continues the groove with Deitch an absolute rhythm machine. What’s terrific about this is the interspersing of the solos as detours to the main theme bringing it home strong. The tune was named for how the fellas felt after a New Orleans Jazz Fest late night session.
Chum City is super funky right from the start and and sounds like something that you could hear Walter playing with The Greyboy Allstars. Indeed, it’s one of two tunes on the album with some fine tenor work from Nick Gerlach another Denver stalwart. The break with Walter dancing on the keys has such a great vibe that yields to Gerlach in some back and forth trading. Deitch has a mini-solo in the second half that is such a kick. By the time they all come back to the A section, it’s ingrained in your brain.
Bobby’s Boogaloo has some low end sonic booms with Eddie with a distinctive opener. This one soars as a guitar led piece with some of what I refer to as Eddie’s chicken picking at lightning speed. Walter takes a turn and it feels like a spinning carousel ride before Eddie comes back to the head. Gotta mention that Deitch is like a rocket propulsion unit here – it’s easy to lose focus as he’s so groovy on this and keeps it all moving throughout all the cuts.
Poison Dart hits with some power from Walter and Deitch at the opener. The synchronization between the trio is near telepathic as Eddie comes in strong sounding like some classic CTI-era George Benson. This album and this song in particular really highlights the individual talent of each, even more so than when they play with larger groups. They come together in phase and then move out of phase so smoothly.
Red Sunset improbably reminds me of one of my favorite electronic bands, Lotus. In particular the signature lines from Eddie could meld nicely with some riffs from Mike Rempel (check it out). Eddie’s is all over this melody throughout. It features some great support bass work from Josh Fairman of Sunsquabi for a slightly different feel.
Meditation is anything but a meditative tune – it actually feels like a rollicking roller coaster. It’s the only cover tune on the album, originally a Sam and the Soul Machine tune from the 1960s. It’s gots some super peaks and some unanticipated twists. Eddie comes in fast with some a fuzzed, wah wah section before Walter crashes to the front with some frenetic jaunts. It’s high speed start to finish here with the quick stop end.
Happy Hour is another high bpm heater. This is not just a roller coaster but some high speed rail. It’s is a quick but satisfying journey.
Hot Honey has Gerlach back in the fold on tenor and he has the lead. Of course, at FunkCity.net we love all things saxophone and he is soooo smooth here, it amplifies how great this collective really is. The segue to Walter is perfect and he just dances all over the keys before the baton pass back to Gerlach. From a recent online interview, the trio mentioned that this one is somewhat of a Horace Silver tribute and I’m glad they included this cut on the album.
Corner Pocket has Roberts and and Walter volleying back and forth in a balanced match here. Deitch as with all the tunes is simultaneously like the conductor and referee making sure everything flows and is on an even keel. Every time the song shifts, I think “damn, that’s a good part.”
Pump Up The Vallium has all three players on a slow roll for the main melody. Eddie and Deitch hold the line as Walter starts singing on organ. It’s near impossible to keep from head bobbing on this one. It’s such great music for chillin’ on a long drive and maybe that’s the point.
WRD, the dynamic, gritty organ trio borne from the brain of Denver-based guitarist-bandleader-producer and Color Red record label co-founder, Eddie Roberts, boasts the bullish energy of three seasoned bandleaders in one standout sonic boom. The group, which features the nimble guitarist Roberts, the staccato drummer Adam Deitch and the elegiac organist Robert Walter, brims with talent and prior successes between them. Perhaps that’s why the trio, as if charging at a target, was able to produce its forthcoming debut LP, The Hit, in just two single-day Mile High City studio sessions. It’s a common rule that any good organ trio must have its own musical language, a unique sense of ESP. Luckily for WRD, the members’ creative intuition resembles three noble creatures sprinting in unison – head down, horns out. Roberts, who co-founded Color Red in early 2018, has always believed that the musical combination of Walter (The Greyboy Allstars), Deitch (Lettuce) and himself would yield impact. Roberts, the longtime guitarist for the band, The New Mastersounds, would often bump into the other two at the New Orleans Jazz Fest. On these occasions, they would longingly discuss future collaborations. But upon co-founding his Colorado-based label, Roberts knew it was the perfect time to get the fellows in the studio to cut some tracks. The result is a record that’s one-part Sunday stroll and one-part rocket ship toward Saturn. But in a way all of this was already written in the stars ahead of time. Roberts, Walter and Deitch, who all share birthdays within a week of one another, are each an astrological Taurus. As a such, the amalgamation of their work together is blunt, determined and muscular. Together, their songs strike cleanly and without distraction.
WRD Trio is:
Robert Walter – Organ & Keyboards
Eddie Roberts – Guitar
Adam Deitch – Drums
Nick Gerlach – Tenor Saxophone on “Chum City” and “Hot Honey”
Produced by Eddie Roberts
Tracking Engineer – Eddie Roberts
Color Red Studios
Mixing Engineer – Eddie Roberts
Color Red Studios
Mastering Engineer – Doug Krebs
Doug Krebs Mastering