Jean-Joseph Cassanéa de Mondonville, violinist of the royal chapel and just a bit younger than Rameau, is one of those French composers of the late Baroque generally relegated to the summary paragraph in historical surveys. His music is not terribly common on recordings, and the Brilliant label's resurrection of this late-'90s recording on Archiv, despite dreadful sound, is welcome.
Robert Walter calls his instrumental heavy organ music "soul-jazz," but that ignores the strong funk element ever-present on all of his albums. This one is no exception, as the opening track, "Adelita," charges out with Walter's Jimmy Smith/Jack McDuff-styled keyboards, driving saxophonist Tim Green into a roaring solo. For this recording, made live in a New Orleans studio with crisp sound, Walter chose top musicians to help the vibe, such as drummers Johnny Vidacovich and Galactic's Stanton Moore, along with bassist James Singleton. The music is baked in the New Orleans groove, with doses of the Meters, Galactic, and Dr. John mixed in. Walter pushes the sonic envelope by shifting into slightly experimental waters during parts of "(Smells Like) Dad's Drunk Again," but he never strays too far afield.
Robert Walter hails from the Greyboy academy of jazz. Spirit of '70 is a solid outing for him, but the funk/jazz legend Gary Bartz steals the show. On tracks like "Corey's Snail and Slug Death," Bartz plays with restraint, frothing with fresh ideas and confidently reaffirming his status as an underrated jazz giant. "Volcanic Acne" is the most cohesive track on the album and shows just how exciting Walter's playing can be when he's inspired. Walter's desire to re-create the "'70s spirit" unfortunately fails to reinvent it.