MOODOO – Porter Batiste Stoltz feat. Page McConnell
Listening to Porter Batiste Stoltz’s newest release, MOODOO, I can’t stop thinking of Julian “Cannonball” Adderley and his great keyboardist, Joe Zawinul, particularly the album Country Preacher. Adderley may or may not have invented soul jazz, but he did it better than anyone else. While he only flirted with actual dance music, he played a big part in creating music you can dance to, think about, and have your soul lit up by all at the same time. That is why it is fitting the true gentleman of jam-nation, Page McConnell, appears here with Meters co-founder George Porter Jr. and his longtime funky Meters bandmates Russell Batiste Jr., and Brian Stoltz. It was their former and current band who played a funktastic role in inventing funk music. It was McConnell’s former and future band, after all, who demonstrated intelligent, soulful dance music could force otherwise reasonable people to lose their jobs, girlfriends, sobriety, sanity, and transmissions just to make it to shows. From Stoltz’s raunchy guitar on the opening track, “Ausnacious,” to the beatific closer, “Out in the Country,” MOODOO is the funky voodoo that you do.
For example: “All We Wanna Do.” Some players blow their load the first time through the chords and wind up having nowhere to go and nothing to say. But a gentleman like Page McConnell has patience. He listens. He waits. He bides. He lets the music happen on its own terms. He lets his piano do the talking. On “Message from PBS,” a familiar keyboard sound arises, something that is certain to raise the it-looks-like-Phish-will-return boner in us all. From there we move onwards and funkwards to the Curtis Mayfield tune, “Check Out Your Mind,” which is followed by a three-song medley ending in “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35.” Hearing this stupendous version of the Dylan classic from Blonde on Blonde, my thoughts turned from soul and funk music to realize what it is I like so much about this oft-derided jamband music: its willingness to draw from as many sources as possible. Having a liberal attitude is what leads to the invention of new ideas and new forms of music, and this attitude is at the heart of MOODOO. While it draws heavily from the past, it rings with novelty and will rightfully take its place in history, waiting to be heard and re-formed by a new generation of musicians.