Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Stanton Moore - III (Telarc, 2007)

Drummer Stanton Moore takes a break from his New Orleans funk band Galactic to lead a grits 'n' gravy organ group that serves up groove based jazz with a few surprises. Joining him on this disc are Robert Walter on organ, Will Bernard on guitar, Skerik on saxophone, and Mark Mullins on trombone. Drum heavy, the music comes across as something akin to an electric version of The Bad Plus with the drums out in front leading the charge, and Walter creating swirling textures on the B-3. Skerik and Bernard step up for solo spots and Mullins adds a few well timed trombone slurs. The names of the original tunes foretell the good time nature of a lot of the music with "Bigg 'uns Get the Ball Rolling" and "(Don't Be Comin' With No) Weak Sauce" which keep things simmering nicely with funky backbeats and pithy solos, and the rockin' "Chilcock" gives Bernard space for a fine guitar feature. As good as the original tunes are, the interest really picks up at the end of the CD with a trio of covers. Abdulla Ibrahim's "Water From an Ancient Well" is not something you'd expect on a groovin' organ album, but it works very well, forcing the band to throttle back on the energy and play with graceful precision. Led Zepplin's "When the Levee Breaks" is a natural for Moore, whose huge chops add a primal rhythm to Bernard's slippery slide guitar. Rounding out the trilogy of covers which I'm sure were designed with the memory of Katrina's devastation in mind is a gentle and uplifting version of the gospel standard "I Shall Not Be Moved," long a favorite of New Orleans musicians of many generations. This is a consistently well performed album which will bring much enjoyment to fans of groove based jazz.

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