Stanton Moore: Conversations

Veteran drummer Stanton Moore, of New Orleans funk masters Galactic, returns to his jazz beginnings with a spirited piano-trio recording. Setting out to explore his straight-ahead jazz influences, Moore went into woodshed mode, taking lessons with drummer Kenny Washington and studying the work of Philly Joe Jones. His trio with two Crescent City staples, pianist David Torkanowsky and bassist James Singleton, developed its material during an extended residency at New Orleans’ Snug Harbor, forging the strong chemistry documented on this album.

Showcasing NOLA’s jazz tradition, all but one tune (Herbie Hancock’s blues “Driftin'”) were written by New Orleans composers, including the band’s three members. Singleton’s “Lauren Z” opens the set with an infectious bass riff, and Moore’s unmistakable presence and strong rapport with Torkanowsky drive the tune. Michael Pellera’s “Carnival” is a hard-grooving, Mardi-Gras-inspired, Latin-tinged number; the solemn ballad “Waltz for All Souls” by Evan Christopher features Singleton’s poignant arco; and “Tchefunkta” is laced with the leader’s supreme brushwork, evidence of Philly Joe’s influence. “Paul Barbarin’s Second Line” honors the New Orleans brass-band parade tradition, while the intricate “Magnolia Triangle” and the swinging “In the Keyhole” pay homage to legendary NOLA drummer James Black.

Moore fosters a unique trio interplay here. The bandmates’ New Orleans roots inform their shared sensibility, from a deep sense of groove and pocket to cultural and musical influences. They also share consummate musicianship and versatility. While both Torkanowsky and Singleton shine, this is unmistakably a drummer’s record: Without overshadowing, Moore’s engaging virtuosity, imagination and improvisational chops are clearly on display.