Flyin’ The Koop – Stanton Moore
Blue Thumb Records 314 549 788-2
Galactic drummer Stanton Moore assembles an all-star cast of jamband players
(bassist Chris Wood, saxophonists Karl Denson and Skerik and guitarist Brian
Seeger) for this funk-jazz set. Given that this was a one-off project with
only a few days of recording time, the performances are remarkably tight,
and any fan of these players' main projects can comfortably disregard any of
the less positive remarks below.
In the history of music, it has been common for critics to use the rallying
cry "lack of emotion" against any new genre or subgenre that makes them
uneasy, so take these words with a grain of salt. However, like much of the
"jazz" material this reviewer has encountered from the current crop of
jambands, this CD seems long on conspicuous analog grit (dig Moore's 26-inch
bass drum) and self-conscious hipster touches (loops, titles like "Tang The
Hump") and low on drama and depth.
To be a tad more charitable, this disc comes off like a modern Blue Note
date, but programmed as a series of "Sidewinder"s or "Watermelon Man"s that
leaves this listener waiting for a "Maiden Voyage" or "Blue Train." Skerik
comes close to stealing the show – his turn as a sax-trio leader on
"Magnolia Triangle" and his "saxophonics" elsewhere display the greatest
amount of identity and daring. Moore mixes things up boldly behind Seeger
on "Let's Go," and Wood displays the firm touch MMW fans have come to
expect, but their playing remains firmly pattern-oriented much of the time.
Perhaps, in 30 years, with these musicians having established firm
identities, players will look on this set the way today's jazz listeners
identify with the Morgan and Hancock dates referenced above. For now,
though, it seems that Moore and company need to stretch a bit more to move
beyond impressive pastiches and make a further contribution to the music.