Joe Krown, Walter “Wolfman” Washington, Russell Batiste, Soul Understanding (Independent)

Joe Krown, Walter Wolfman Washington, Russell Batiste, Soul Understanding, album cover

On their third outing, the trio of Joe Krown, Walter “Wolfman” Washington, and Russell Batiste, Jr. continue their tradition of solid, if somewhat generic, funk played with an easy authority. Alternating instrumental and vocal cuts, the twelve tracks on Soul Understanding stick to a mid-tempo groove that allows the three players—all individual heavyweights—to also trade turns in the spotlight. On the opener, “Trio’s Anthem,” Krown’s B-3 comping supports a sweet light blues from Washington’s guitar that recalls the best of George Benson. [iframe src=”” width=”300″ height=”380″ frameborder=”0″ allowtransparency=”true” class=”spotify-right”]Buy on AmazonBuy on iTunes On the title track, Krown takes off with a heavier rhythmic funk that plays the big chords against Batiste’s light jazz drum and hi-hat with just enough open space to emphasize the beat. Washington’s gruff corduroy vocals, supported by Batiste’s, lend a gentle earthiness to the sung tunes, mostly longing love songs that would be perfectly appropriate for weddings. Overall, the interplay between the three feels natural, the result of years of playing out together, but that ease may also be the trio’s undoing as these efforts are hindered both by the sameness of the tempos and their ability to jam ad infinitum over little-or no-hook tunes. Closing the album, “Just Us,” has Krown and Washington trading breezy riffs for the kind of light swing that could have lifted this album above its pleasant but undistinguished uniformity.