David T. Walker – 1973 – David T. Walker

Sublime grooves from studio guitar genius David T Walker – an album that’s a perfect summation of the laidback, yet all-there sound he crafted for so many other artists over the years – finally cast out in the lead, and set up in a sweet set of larger soul instrumental backings!

The style’s a bit like the Kudu Records mode of the time – with a core instrumentalists grooving out over a larger ensemble – but the overall focus is a bit less jazz, and more in a soul instrumental mode – one that follows the melodies nicely, yet still has Walker bringing in some great chromatic touches on his hollow body electric. There’s a similarity here to the sound of O’Donel Levy on Groove Merchant, although a bit tighter overall – and other musicians on the set include Joe Sample on keyboards, Billy Preston on organ, and Paul Humphrey on drums.

Tracks
A1 Never Can Say Goodbye 4:06
A2 Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever 3:09
A3 On Broadway 3:30
A4 I’ve Never Had The Pleasure 3:23
A5 I Believe In Music 3:20
B1 I Want To Talk To You 3:07
B2 Hot Fun In The Summertime 3:37
B3 Only Love Can Break Your Heart 3:22
B4 What’s Going On 4:46
B5 The Real T. 3:22

The same subtlety and generosity that made David T. Walker such a superb session guitarist proved his Achilles’ heel as a leader — even with his name out front, he refuses to dominate the spotlight, and as a result his solo efforts never quite catch fire. 

Walker’s self-titled Ode debut is no exception: a supremely tasteful and nuanced collection of soul-jazz instrumentals featuring a stellar supporting cast including keyboardist Billy Preston and drummer Paul Humphrey, it’s impeccably played and frequently beautiful, but at times unnervingly bloodless, as if technique alone is enough for transcendence. 

Walkeris far too deferential to his colleagues and vice-versa, and with no one in full command, familiar melodies like “What’s Goin’ On” and “Never Can Say Goodbye” go nowhere fast — a frustrating listen, to say the least.


 

Bonus

David T. Walker – 1976 – On Love

One of the smoothest albums ever cut by David T Walker – but also one of the best, and certainly an album with a much richer feel and deeper sound than you’d guess from the cheesy “rose petals on a crotch” image on the cover! The style here is a bit more lush and sophisticated than before for Walker – with arrangements laid out by Gene Page and Jerry Peters, in styles that blend in bits strings, fuller orchestrations, and tighter rhythms – almost in a soundtrack soul sort of style, but much tighter overall. The setting is perfect for the chromatic hues of Walker’s guitar – which are never buried in the mix, and rise to the top of the record beautifully throughout! In a way, the album’s almost an update of modes that Wes Montgomery explored with Don Sebesky at the end of the 60s – and David’s a perfect heir to that tradition with his sound on the record. 

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