By Brian Turk
Since 1994 Stanton Moore has been the drummer of the New Orleans-based funk and jazz jam gods Galactic. While the group is considered among the inner circle of torch-carriers of modern day funk, Moore, in particular, is often singled out as one of the premier funk players in the world due in large part to his never ending role as a student of music.
Moore has an almost carefree willingness to travel into uncharted territories, like he does on his latest solo album Conversations, released in April of this year. But whether its for his role in Galactic, his solo work, his bands Garage A Trois or Dragon Smoke, Moore is constantly learning lessons, musically and otherwise.
When it comes to his playing, Moore credits a lot of his style to his early mentor Johnny Vidacovich, who he said transformed him from a stiff, mechanical player. “I had a very formatted foundation set up by Martin Hurley, who was the band director and drum line instructor at Brother Martin High School,” said Moore, during a recent interview with The Marquee. “He is a world-renowned drum line instructor, so I had a very strict upbringing with him. Johnny Vidacovich thought that I was too stiff though and didn’t know how to approach me early on. But he was very patient in my development and he allowed me to loosen up and become more of an organic player. Johnny was instrumental in helping me revamp what I learned from Martin and loosen it up, so that I could make it work for what I wanted to do musically.”
In 2010, Moore was able to record his multi-media project, album and instructional guide Groove Alchemy at Levon Helm’s famous “Barn.” Playing alongside Helm during those sessions and the live performances that followed, Moore said that he took life lessons from The Band’s legendary drummer. “Levon touched so many people’s lives, and affected people so deeply,” Moore said. “He was such an inspiration because of everything he went through and came out on the other side of. He was diagnosed with throat cancer, got back in the game, and then won three Grammies in three years. He dealt with debt and bankruptcy, and he played music on his terms. It was all just so remarkable, man. For me, the lesson Levon taught was perseverance. He endured everything he had to go through, and he did it with class and eloquence. He carried himself stoically, but joyfully. There will never be anyone like him again.”
While Moore explored the styles of drummers like Jabo Starks, Clyde Stubblefied and Zigaboo Modeliste for Groove Alchemy, for Conversations he decided to explore his straight-ahead jazz influences. “Jazz has been part of my development and a deep love of mine for a long time. Everything I do funk and groove-wise is informed by what I’ve learned playing and studying jazz,” Moore said. “I had put myself through what was basically a doctoral program on funk drumming, and I wanted to do the same thing with my jazz playing.”
He studied with veteran drummer Kenny Washington and spent time with Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra co-leader Jeff Hamilton, Moore’s partner in the Crescent Cymbal Company. He refined his brush playing by studying the work of Philly Joe Jones. He kept digging and kept learning. He kept being Stanton Moore.”
This month, when Moore visits Colorado he will perform with two of his different bands. In addition to playing with Galactic at the Arise Music Festival, he will play with Dragon Smoke, which features Eric Lindell, Robert Mercurio and Ivan Neville.
| Stanton Moore |
| w/Dragon Smoke | Telluride Jazz Festival | August 3 |
| w/ Galactic | Arise Music Festival
| August 9 |
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