“Como De Allstars” is the title track from a surprise Greyboy Allstars studio album which dropped July 3. Self-described boogaloo revivalists, the band’s first new music in seven years captures a relentless Caribbean funk groove buoyed by an inspired message of unity: “Surviving in a bitter world…divided, confused by the states…united, come on friends we’re gonna make it brighter.” The quintet initially formed in 1994 to provide a live band alternative to the rare groove DJs who were spinning records from the dusty catalogs of labels like Blue Note and Prestige, as well as, the lighter funk of English acid jazzers playing to loops and samples. Comprised by saxophonist Karl Denson, guitarist Elgin Park, organist Robert Walter, bassist Chris Stillwell and drummer Aaron Redfield, Greyboy Allstars debuted with the revelatory and electrifying LP, ‘West Coast Boogaloo,’ featuring James Brown trombonist Fred Wesley as a special guest. Coinciding with the band’s forthcoming new album, reissue label Light In The Attic Records will deliver a fresh pressing of the long out of print ‘West Coast Boogaloo’ on August 7. Greyboy Allstars have slowed their recording and touring schedule down considerably over the years as demand has grown for individual members in other capacities: Mike Andrews (aka Elgin Park) is renowned for his film scores, including most recently ‘The King of Staten Island,’ Karl Denson tours as the saxophonist in The Rolling Stones, as well as his own Tiny Universe, Robert Walter plays keys for Phish bassist Mike Gordon and fronts his own ensemble 20th Congress, while rhythm section Chris Stillwell and Aaron Redfield are in demand sessions players whose resumes stretch from Elton John to Charli XCX. The magic between the five musicians returns instantly, however, when reunited—as ‘Como De Allstars’ so convincingly displays.
I had a chance to catch up with Robert Walter to talk about the new album and the re-issue of one of my favorite Greyboy albums. We do some comparing and contrasting, diggin’ into a few tracks and the growth of the players and the band, and just how it is they are able to get all the cylinders firing as if they never skipped a beat. We learn a little about what Robert has been doing with his “lockdown” time, kids…don’t be surprised it has everything to do with fundamentals and we build a set-list toGether which will lead the listeners to want him there more than they want me. I have to admit, Robert is one of those players for me that when I hear him, I know it is him and my joy level instantly rises. Just like when I tune into this new release.