Stanton Moore Trio, Nightlight Lounge, Bellingham, WA – 12/15
Not having heard Moore's recent solo release III, I wasn't too sure what to expect; I figured I was in for a night of funk (which indeed was to come) but I was surprised pleasantly surprised that is when things started out in a deeper jazz tone. Perhaps one of the best things about Moore is that while he can play jazz, and play it well, his style is a far cry from your typical drummer toying in that genre.
No soft taps for this NOLA character; Moore downright tortures his kit. He comes down deliberate and heavy-handed; subtle is simply not his style. Every note resounds, and resounds hard, making Moore one of the more dynamic drummers out there, and certainly one of the most entertaining to watch. The majority of the time it seems Moore can barely contain his excitement, jumping off his stool I love that.
Clanging, banging keys accentuated by the drum kit defined the first number, and if anything it was Will Bernard's looping guitar that injected the jazz. While Moore's roadie fiddled with his bass drum in between the second and third song, the lanky Brian Coogan leapt out from behind his keyboards and declared, "I'll tap dance for you!" He proceeded to do just that, setting a playful mood for the remainder of the night. Coogan returned to his set-up to deliver some super heavy organ countered with repeated bursts of high-pitched exclamations before Bernard took his turn to rip ahead with searing guitar, Moore providing halt-and-go drums, eventually going completely mental until he was out of breath.
The trio consistently moved forward with each new song, never seeming to stagnate or even simmer. A cowbell jungle beat slipped into jazz then reached an almost big band sound, bluesy guitar suddenly dominating, a dirty slide joined by a brief bout of boogie-woogie keys. The jungle sound reemerged, Moore working through so many tricks the pace nearly left you insane. Of course, this was just the appetizer. The group hit its climax (although they never really came back down 'til the end) and the audience flew into a frenzy, a crescending organ defining it all. Sometimes sultry, sometimes funky, always slithering, the trio took the New Orleans sound up and down and around.
The second set found the trio covering a handful of Galactic tunes, convulsing, spasmodic funk. Moore and company also worked through some more complex pieces as the audience had a harder time catching a groove to keep their dancing shoes warm. When Coogan took his organ to an almost eerie level a maniacal grin played across his face and Moore stacked up a huge solo, moving at terrific speed, before allowing the entire tune to deconstruct.
The communication between the musicians was phenomenal, the three of them flawlessly and simultaneously shifting the rhythm, over and over again, with what appeared to be no communication at all. As the night progressed the jams just kept getting longer and longer, the organ and guitar just as important as the drums, Moore not allowing things to default to the Stanton Moore show. In fact by the end of the evening, the camaraderie was blatant. Bernard and Coogan "attacked" one another on stage, practicing their latest wrestling moves, Moore laughing behind them. When the group reemerged for the encore, Moore said Coogan wished "to dedicate the next song to Grey Goose vodka." After covering a quiet, thoughtful number penned by a South African composer, Moore announced (in case there was any doubt) that the group was "going to rock the hell out."
Well, Moore's a man of his word.