Blues Bytes


May 2009

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Walter "Wolfman" Washington
Doin' The Funky Thing
Zoho Music

Walter Washington

It’s been ten years since Walter “Wolfman” Washington has released an album, in part due to the effects of Katrina. Our patience has been rewarded with Washington’s latest release on Zoho Music, appropriately called Doin’ The Funky Thing. As might be expected from a Washington disc, it features blues, jazz and R&B, all peppered with a heavy dose of funk.

The funk kicks in right away with the opening cut, a seven-minute opus called “Shake Your Booty/Funky Thing Part I,” that serves as a showcase for Washington’s longtime band, the Roadmasters (Jack Cruz – bass, Jimmy Carpenter – sax, Antonio Gambrell – trumpet and Kevin O’Day – drums). “I’m Back,” which features Dr. John on Hammond B3, is a narrative about the hurricane and Washington’s efforts to help the city recapture what was lost. Washington was one of the first musicians to return to the city after the hurricane and was a huge part in the resurgence of the city’s music scene. “Tweakin’” is another funk workout that features those punchy horns and the Wolfman’s patented howls.

“One Day From Being a Fool” and “Crescent City Starlights” are ballads that allow Washington a chance to show off his vocal chops, which owe solid debts to Ray Charles and Washington’s longtime employer, Johnny Adams. “Just Like That” is a swinging R&B tune written by Cruz, and “Only You” is a mid-tempo piece that sings the praises of fidelity. “Wolf Jazz” is an appropriately-titled soul/jazz instrumental, and “Landslide” is more funky R&B. The disc closes with a reprise of the opening cut.

The Roadmasters are in fine form throughout the disc. Washington’s guitar work ranges from stinging leads to the liquid jazz tone reminiscent of George Benson, and his vocals are equally impressive. This time around, Washington also served as producer and handled all the rhythm arrangements.

I can’t put it any better than the liner notes penned by John Sinclair, “Walter ‘Wolfman’ Washington & the Roadmasters have been doin’ the funky thing as long as there’s been a funky thing to do.” After too long an absence, the Wolfman is back and badder than ever.

--- Graham Clarke


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