Some of you might remember a couple months ago when I wrote a review about the new album from The Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio. There, I discussed the notion that this type of music — organ-driven groove jazz — may be gaining fresh new audiences after many many decades of blues, rock, jazz and jam-band DNA bubbling up through cross pollinating music scenes. Click here if you missed that review.
Well, in that review’s aftermath I was pleasantly surprised to receive in the mail an album (without even a press release attached to it) by a group making new music in that similar space. It was clear someone wanted me to hear this music and I’m glad they sent it.
Something of a supergroup of players from a variety of bands in the jam band universe, WRD features Robert Walter (Greyboy Allstars, 20th Congress) on Hammond B3 Organ, Eddie Roberts (The New Mastersounds) on guitar and Adam Deitch (Lettuce, Break Science) on drums.
Like Delvon Lamarr’s Organ Trio, WRD’s music is fun and frisky, floating over infectious rockin’ improvisational grooves that are great for dancing or driving. The vibe here is a tad different than Lamarr’s somewhat funkier soul-surf vibe, leaning at times more toward the more hybrid psych sounds Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders were mining on the early 1970’s Live at Keystone album (think “Finders Keepers”). Also, for other points of reference, perhaps consider the track “Uncle Martin’s” from Hooteroll, a collaboration between Garcia and organist Howard Wales. At other times WRD’s The Hit reminds me of some early George Benson jams when he was on CTI (“Footin’ It”).
The music here is kind of like a cross between The Spencer Davis Group on steroids and the sort of jams Medeski, Martin and Wood (another organ trio jam band) excelled at. I hear echoes of early Chicago, Traffic, and even moments of Georgie Fame. I have an obscure rockin’ blues jam album by Preston Love featuring Shuggie Otis that this reminds me of at times grooves-wise.
I’m sure there are other references going on… I’m offering up these touchstones to give you an idea of what to expect.
WRD switch up things periodically to keep the sound and textures interesting, adding Tenor Saxophone player Nick Gerlach on two tracks and Josh Fairman on bass on another.
WRD’s The Hit has a nice audiophile pedigree in that all the tracks were recorded in live takes, with the band all in the same room. So there is a natural vintage feel to the recording which in part comes from the players “vibing” off of one another in close proximity (no headphones were used apparently during the sessions and everything was recorded straight to tape).
Also since the band was playing together with (likely) minimal isolation, microphones on the instruments capture the “bleed through” from one another, adding to the somewhat more organic sound on this album, a sound that was popular in the 1950’s, ’60s and early ’70s when this style of recording was more the norm.
This vinyl pressing of WRD’s The Hit is happily quite nice sounding with only one audible pressing glitch that lasted probably a 10th of a second. Why does this matter? Well, the album comes pressed on a beautifully trippy white, pink and red opaque splatter vinyl. That type of multi color vinyl can be noisy but this one sounds quite clear even in the quiet spaces between tracks.
You can still order WRD’s The Hit at their website but hurry soon as it looks like the pre-orders are selling out fast (click the WRD anywhere in this review to jump to their page or on the album title to jump to Amazon where it is also available for pre-order). These limited edition, small-batch pressings can go quickly in the indie world but it is worth making the effort to support independent artists who are doing good things.