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Stanton Moore: Living Outside the Box

By Published: October 17, 2005
AAJ: Alright, how about Earl Palmer?

SM: Yeah, Earl Palmer. A lot of people call him, "The Architect of Rock and Roll. You know, he pretty much bridged the gap between jazz drumming and creative rock and roll drumming. He had to figure out something to play behind these wild men who were coming in playing straight eighths on the piano. Of course there were others. Chuck Berry, the guys who played with Chuck Berry, and some of the other guys. But Earl really started that stuff with Fats Domino. A lot of people think the first record was in '48 with Fats Domino. Earl is one of the most recorded drummers of all time. He went to L.A. And he did countless soundtracks and movie themes and TV theme songs. So he's this incredibly versatile guy who started off really kind of creating an approach to rock and went on to become one of the most recorded studio drummers of all time.

AAJ: How about Ed Blackwell?

SM: Ed, you know, taking a lot of African ideas and applying them to drumming. Also, taking a lot of melodic ideas and applying them. So, you know, a lot of the Ornette Coleman stuff, of course, you know, with Ed. I mean, he did so many records, but definitely checking out the Ornette Coleman stuff is cool.

AAJ: How about Johnny Vidacovich?

SM: Johnny, yeah, Johnny is a huge influence on me. I consider him pretty much my mentor. I mean the guy that really kinda took me under his wing and, you know, showed me anything I wanted to know. He's always been there for me. He and I are good friends now. I try to go and visit with him. You know, now I have a little 9 month old daughter, and he's got a three year old niece. So they watch his niece, and I'll bring my daughter over there. So, you know, we're playing with the girls! So that's fun.

AAJ: What records would you recommend that best represent Johnny's playing?

SM: His solo records are great. Mystery Street, in particular, is just a really, really fabulous snapshot of his playing. The John Scofield record that he's on, Flat Out, is really good. It's got him playing on, "Cissy Strut, playing his very, you know, slinky greasy street beat stuff which is just killing dude. I mean, it's amazing. It's worth buying that record for that track in particular. You know, Terri Lyne Carrington is on that record too, but as far as Johnny goes, the tracks he plays on that record are great.

His solo records and the Astral Project records. Oh, and the Professor Longhair that he's on, Crawfish Fiesta, is just astounding. It's killing. To me that's the Professor Longhair record that I recommend for people to buy, because it was with his road band. They had been on the road and they got a chance to get all that shit really tight. It wasn't like some guys who hadn't played with 'Fess and kinda coming into the studio and tried to figure it out. You know, they really had their shit dialed in, and just kinda super-charged. All the tempos are kinda like clippin.' That's a killing example of Johnny's playing...Oh yeah, the new Robert Walter record has me and Johnny on it. I think we're each on about half of it.

AAJ: How about Baby Dodds?

SM: Baby Dodds! I just read a book on Baby Dodds called, The Baby Dodds Drum Method, by Vince Hickey and Richard Berkeley. It's cool, it's kinda quirky, you know, but it's got some invaluable history and it really details his history and a lot of where he got some of his ideas. I guess his most, well back in the '20s, I think it was back in '23 he recorded with King Oliver and those records were, you know, some of the most popular records that he did at the time. But because of the way they did the recording they could not. If he played drums the needle would skip.

So on those records, unfortunately, he's just playing like woodblock and a couple little splash cymbals. But then in '27, he did a record with Jelly Roll Morton, and they let him play with the whole drums. 'Cause, you know, they were recording like onto acetate with a needle so it would make the needle skip in '23, but I think they got some new technology in '27 that he could play his drums. So he is playing, you know, snare drum and bass drum and startin' to ride on the ride cymbal. You know, one of the first guys to ever do that, if not the first and got on the cymbal playing that whole, you know, his approach to playing time on the snare drum. Bump—bizzzzzzzzz—ump—bizzzzzzzzz—ump. You know comin' from the march right? Then going to the ride cymbal—skang—skang-a-dang-skang-a-dang, and the way he would say it is "tie-tie-your-tie-tie-your-tie.

So you know his whole approach, and then he had a whole revival in the '40s and did a bunch of records in the '40s, uh, mid-'40s, where you can kinda hear his whole approach. And he became more melodic too, using his tom-toms and playing melodies on the tom-toms. And so in the '40s he got this set in the '40s with three tom-toms. So, a lot of people say, you know, he really influenced Max Roach's whole melodic approach. But you listen to some of those records Baby Dodds did in the '40s, man he's beautiful, you know. His playing on them is amazing, it's really, really killin'!

But the whole folklore of the thing is that he was doin' that since the '20s. He was playing like that since the '20s, you know. But unfortunately because of the technology, they weren't always able to record him in the way that he should've been heard, you know. And then stayin' in Chicago from the '20s to the '40s. And then playin' with a lot of people, doin' a lot of drinkin.' So he didn't always get recorded. But by the '40s when he made some good soundin' records and you could hear what he was doin,' it was killin'!!!!!

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