Pacific Sun

Our published week comes to a close with an appearance at the Larkspur Cafe Theatre by the Walter Strauss Trio. Strauss’ debut solo disc, Pulling Shadows (2007) arrived at my house with a little help from his friends — and I’ve been spinning it since.

I’ve been a fan of Walter Strauss since I received a copy of his project with kora master Mamadou Diabate, who also performs on “Pulling Shadows”. Of local interest, some of the recording for the 10-track disc was done in Fairfax. Strauss has harvested a rich melange from several styles, and his new recording is a showcase of what the man can do.

From his previous recording, I was ready for Strauss’s smooth and fluent worldbeat rhythms and runs. An affinity (and corresponding ability) for jazz is apparent as well — Walter Strauss can make those strings sing! What came as a surprise, especially after the somewhat spiritual lyrics of other songs (such as the first track “In the Stone”), was song number six “The Beast”. With sampled horns and all, this dark homage to everyone’s inner critic sounds like nothing else on the disc, especially regarding the lyrics.

With all sorts of percussion, mandolin, pedal steel and more helping him construct many a mood, Strauss has pieced together a musical quilt that covers quite a sonic area. It’ll be fun seeing how he fits it all together for a live performance. – Matt Kramer