In a city where Joe Krown, Walter “Wolfman” Washington, and Russell Batiste, Jr. play so many nights for tips, drinks, and nominal cover charges, it can be easy to take for granted the wealth of experience, professionalism, and straight-up talent that they bring to the stage every night. They’re so familiar to us that we can forget just how good they are at their jobs. There’s a reason that Krown, Washington, and Batiste got to be such titans of the New Orleans music scene, though, and Triple Threat is here to remind us of it.
Their new release is chiefly an exercise in hard-driving, organ-trio funk. Though it does slow down for ballads, it mostly maintains the dance-floor tempo, forceful beat, and deep pocket that have come to characterize the performers’ careers. Nine of its 12 tracks are original compositions, but none is a departure for any of the three musicians, musically or idiomatically. Triple Threat doesn’t make any effort to depart from its sizable comfort zone: it’s a slick, professional record of three master craftsmen putting down stake in the style they call home.
For all its utility in clubs and on dance floors, bluesy funk (and vice versa) can get repetitious. Here, though, each performer has such a well- developed musical vocabulary and approach that the songs come alive. Krown, Washington, and Batiste dig deep into their bags of tricks and come up with combinations and licks that make the genre feel fresh. For those who follow these musicians and those who’ve been taking them for granted, Triple Threat is a welcome reminder of the funk New Orleans’ consummate pros are capable of putting forth, night after night.