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Stanton Moore: Living Outside the Box

By Published: October 17, 2005
AAJ: Does your band feel like the modern instruments aren't as good?

SM: Well, for a long time companies weren't really makin' very good instruments, I don't think, you know. And now they're startin' to realize some of the value of what they were doin'in the 60s and early 70s. You know, a lot of drum companies, to me, I wasn't really diggin' their tone. Although Gretsch, I really dig their new drums, I've got one of their new kits and it's killin'! It sounds amazing. It's beautiful. But, I didn't really start playing any of their new stuff until I started endorsing them and got a new kit, and I really dig their drums. I think they really stayed pretty true. You know, they've changed some things about their kits, but the shells are still the same. They've changed the bearing edges. They've made the drums with a little bit clearer tone, but to me it's not like a cookie cutter drum tone. It's still very unique, and it's totally identifiable as Gretsch to me. So that's why I don't mind playin' the new Gretsch stuff. You know, like their custom high-end stuff. I think it's killin.' To me it's killin.'

But, you know, like a lot of companies, the guys don't really like the new guitars. As far as organs go, they don't make the organs like they did. They make some kind of digital thing. I mean Hammond makes some kind of organ that looks like an old organ, but it's got all these digital feaures, or something. I don't know. But Rich, he's got a couple simulators to keep on the bus, if we're going to do a radio show or like do an in-store or something like that. But, as far as like onstage, you know, he's got a whole bunch of different types of Hammonds. He's got a B3. He's got an A100, which is basically a B3 in a smaller cabinet. He's got a C, which I think is basically a B3, which is in a no-portable cabinet which is mostly for churches. I mean it's a gorgeous organ that you definitely don't want to take on the road. You know, the one he's got's in great shape, it's beautiful and looks like it's been sitting preserved in a church somewhere.

AAJ: Has getting an organ overseas been a problem for the band on tour?

SM: No, not too bad. I mean most people nowadays have organs. So it's cool. But we've definitely seen a surge in organ players and people carrying organs. I mean, down in New Orleans, there's probably ten guys I can think of, off the top of my head, who will not play a gig unless it's on an organ, you know. Big Joe Krown, Brian Coogan, John Grow, Rich. And now David Torkanowksy is bringing his organ around a lot. I mean there's a bunch of people I'm forgetting right now. Kelly Bernard, who's not livin' in New Orleans right now, but he was bringing his organ a lot. But yeah, there's a bunch of guys just in New Orleans that I could think of, that, you know, tote the organ around. Robert Walter, he lives in New Orleans now. But, I mean, I just played on his new records. I'm on two of his records, and he's on a record with me. We played in a Frequinox together. He plays in my trio. So he's a totally killin' organ player and I love playin' with him.

But, yeah, so there's all kinds of dudes doin' that. Whereas you didn't see that as much 10-15 years ago. Guys were playing these, you know, 80s keyboards and stuff.

AAJ: Like the Yamaha DX7.

SM: Ah, God, I know. Well, people started to realize that the shit didn't sound good. (Laughter) So, thank god. People we're like, "Oh yeah, now we don't have to carry around this big heavy thing anymore. But, yes, you do, unfortunately. But they do have some really good simulators now, that sound really good. But, you know, I mean, still there's nothing like an actual organ. So, yeah, I mean nowadays the instruments are not made the same. We like vintage stuff a little more.

AAJ: New Orleans is a town famous for its drummers. I'd like to get your impression on some of them, and some key records that epitomize their style. Let's start with Idris Muhammad.

SM: Cool! All those Grant Green records with him on them are killer. He's got a bunch of solo records out. There's actually a newer John Scofield record, Groove Elation, where his playin' on that record is phenomenal to me—that a guy, you know, could just keep getting better. You know what I'm saying? He keeps refining his whole approach and it's beautiful. It's killing, you know what I mean? He's as great today as he ever was man. He's amazing. I've seen him live and he's just unreal dude, just beautiful. He's done so many different things with so many different people. But, really, to me, that whole catalog he did, anything he did with Lou Donaldson or Grant Green is just killing!

AAJ: How about James Black?

SM: Unfortunately, he wasn't recorded as much as he should have been. But the things you can get are Eddie Bo's, Hook And Sling, which is just amazing, it's unreal the funk stuff that he was doing. Also, that Ellis Marsalis record, The Classic Ellis Marsalis. That's more his jazz record. So, those two records are just killing, must haves.

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