Gregg Inhofer: "Music for the Upright Walking" (2011)
Ever since the 2007 live album simply titled, "Inside" -- one man, one piano, one big revelation -- Gregg Inhofer's fans have been waiting for the promised full band studio follow-up. And what a band it is...
There's guitarist Dale Strength, Gregg's running buddy since the heady days of Pepper Fog, and his leader in the current "sideways country" combo, The Dickins. And young Jason Parvey, who impresses often with his salty, juicy, gripping "Saturday Night Live"-style sax solos. Plus versatile veteran bassist Charles Fletcher, known for his blues work with Lamont Cranston, Eric Gales, and Willie Murphy, among many others. And of course, watch out -- here comes jazz drums legend, Eric Kamau Gravatt, of Weather Report, Source Code, and McCoy Tyner band fame. Eric digs in and plays Inhofer's rock and pop tunes with just as much punch, panache and spirit as he would a Coltrane classic. "It's all music," Gravatt states. No argument here. There are also guest shots by bluesman Moses Oakland, brother Bob Strength, TC Jammers singer Aimee Fischer, and horn maestro Kevin Nord (of The Suburbs and The Butanes renown).
But it's ultimately Inhofer's party, and he's the host with the most. "Music For The Upright Walking" is a crazy quilt gem, a sampler that even Whitman would envy. "People make playlists of their favorite songs of different styles. I just did it for them, saved them the time."
Gregg gets to play several instruments this outing (piano, organ, electric guitar). He shows off his elastic and soulful voice, re-imagines Jimi Hendrix as a roadhouse pianist, and uncorks a batch of unstoppable, hook-filled, personal, witty and sometimes wondrous original tunes. (Man, the chorus to "Problems" slays me every time!) In my not-so-humble opinion, Gregg's a wizard, a true rockin' star. And this is all the proof you need. Hey Gregg, if I wore a hat -- something other than a stocking cap in winter -- I'd take it off to you!
- By Tom Surowicz, freelance writer for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, and in years past The Twin Cities Reader, City Pages, and dozens of other magazines