Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Jim Waller and the Deltas - Surfin' Wilddotdotdotdotdot
artworkThis is the vinyl release of one of surf music's more unusual artifacts. Jim Waller and the Deltas were from Fresno, and were struck by the surf bug via the "assistance" of Tony Hilder. Waller was a jazz keyboard player, and so his brand of surf was more in tune with his taste than the genre at large. Heavily piano / organ / sax oriented and R&B - lounge jazz based, some even hinting of Perez Prado.

Besides Jim Waller - piano, organ, and rhythm guitar, the Deltas were Terry Christofferson - lead guitar, Roy Carlson - various horns, Eddie Atkinson - bass, and Jeff Christensen - drums.

There are a couple of really cool things here. For one, the jazz guitar version of Latin'ia is the best version ever, next to the Sentinals' original. For another, their jazz edged rendition of the Rhythm Kings / Sentinals Exotic is nothing if not inspired. They were a bit like taking the whole surf idiom, and inverting it.

One last note. Many surf movies were accompanied by jazz, either from phonographs at showings, or later on their soundtracks. This music would have fit right in.
Picks: Surfin' Wild, Exotic, Trippin' At Trestles, Work Song, Latin'ia, Church Key, Body Wompin', Surfin', Surf Walk, Vesuvius, Waikiki Wipeout, 'Bal' Beat

Track by Track Review

Surfin' Wild dotdotdot
Jazz Surf (Instrumental)

This was a single for the Deltas. It is very Hammond oriented, and quite a melodic jazz combo number.

Exotic dotdotdotdot
Jazz Surf (Instrumental)

It's interesting to here Jim Waller's luau lounge interpretation of the Mariachi arrangement of this Pachuko Soul classic. It's very cool, and when compared to modern, or even vintage lounge, it's unsurpassed in campy cheese wonderment. A very enjoyable fun track, with wood blocks banging away, and a real Central Valley swing going.

Trippin' At Trestles dotdotdot
Jazz Surf (Instrumental)

Piano oriented jazz number that is very interesting and infectious. In the old days, I used to think the title didn't match the song very well, but as time has crept up on me, it has become a much better fit. There was a significant influence from West Coast jazz in the South Bay surf sound, and this has some of those elements in it.

Work Song dotdotdotdot
Jazz Surf (Instrumental)

Cannonball Adderley's jazz classic, played with the Jim Waller and The Deltas's characteristic lounge exotica luau ethic. Great!

Latin'ia dotdotdotdotdot
Jazz Surf (Instrumental)

This is the next best thing to Tommy Nunes' original, and totally different. It's glorious jazz chords and tones make it ever so exotic. Thgis just may be the most original cover, and it sure rates a billion stars. Completely enchanting!

Church Key dotdotdotdot
Jazz Surf (Instrumental)

Relatively straight surf arrangement for Waller's band, this cover of an early Central Coast standard from the Revels is solid and very cool.

Body Wompin' dotdotdot
Jazz Surf (Instrumental)

The organ pumps out the feel of the surf with a cool backtrack. The guitar and sax trade off against the organ. Great jazzy whammy chords give it ab aquatic edge.

Surfin' dotdotdot
Jazz Surf (Instrumental)

A jazz arrangement of the Beach Boys classic first record. Unusual, and enjoyable.

Surf Walk dotdotdot
Jazz Surf (Instrumental)

Another Waller original surf/jazz tune with real hole-in-the-wall soul.

Vesuvius dotdotdotdot
Jazz Surf (Instrumental)

The oft-covered surf tune, done with heavy horn and organ use, and a Latin jazz feel. Different, and cool.

Waikiki Wipeout dotdotdot
Jazz Surf (Instrumental)

The vision of the waves at Waikiki as seen over the rim of a glass bearing an umbrella and some beverage comes to mind here.

'Bal' Beat dotdotdotdot
Jazz Surf (Instrumental)

A very soulful luau number that gets you going even if you want to hate it. Great schmoozy stuff.