Robert Walter's Super Heavy Organ | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Robert Walter's Super Heavy Organ

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A slew of organ-jazz discs has come out lately, but two with similar approaches are worth comparing. Break Out, the much-anticipated album by Soulive, attempts to add elements of R & B and funk to the genre, but the songs are so overproduced they remove any of the trio's jazz (or even jam-band) credibility. On the other hand, the songs on Super Heavy Organ (Magnatude), a relatively unheralded disc from keyboardist Robert Walter, do much of what Soulive wanted to do, and a lot better, grabbing the ears of jazz listeners and moving the feet of hipsters. Walter digs deep into classic jazz-organ timbres, but he doesn't just pay homage to past masters; the music swims in a rich gravy of modern grooves and deep funk. Walter cofounded the genre-bending group the Greyboy Allstars in 1993, and the new album nods to 60s jazz and 70s rock (he covers Led Zeppelin's "Poor Tom") as well as the music of New Orleans, where he moved from San Diego just last summer. (The album art shows Walter pressed into the sidewalk of a New Orleans street, pinned under his Hammond B-3--an image that oddly evokes the recent destruction there.) For this show he'll no doubt champion the city's enduring musical legacy; he'll be joined by the iconic Crescent City rhythm team of bassist James Singleton and drummer Johnny Vidacovich (members of the Astral Project and sidemen on the album) and guest artist Skerik, a Seattle saxist known for his work with Garage a Trois and his own band, Critters Buggin. DJ Cappo opens. Fri 9/16, 10 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, $15.

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