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Stanton Moore Goes Indie

Gabriel Medina Arenas By

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Drummer Stanton Moore is one of the prodigal sons of New Orleans. His fans know him well from projects like Galactic, Garage a Trois and Dragon Smoke, which prodigiously fuse rock, jazz and funk.

Moore, whose musical career spans nearly 25 years, is also an educator and has released several instructional books and DVDs.

However, he had never recorded a jazz-only album. Before taking that step, he immersed himself in the jazz world, and played with jazz veterans James Singleton and David Torkanowsky for a couple of years. When he felt ready to record the album, he decided to fund the production through Indiegogo.com.

His rationale was the following: usually record labels lend money to artists, so they can pay for all the costs involved in recording their album. That advance is used to pay for studio time, pay the musicians, producers, engineers, cover the album artwork, etc. The problem is that artists don't receive money from the record until they repay the whole loan to the record label.

That's why Moore wanted to change the paradigm and record an album without the support of a label. Instead he asked his fans for help, and in exchange for their donations he gave them singles, T-shirts, drum sticks, signed CDs, etc. Moore surpassed his $35,000 goal in less than two months. It was a highly successful campaign.

All About Jazz interviewed Stanton Moore and he talked about the successful campaign to record his album Conversations, with James Singleton and David Torkanowsky. Moore also offered a diagnosis of the state of jazz's health in "The Big Easy."

All About Jazz: I know that you played at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. So how did you feel about your shows?

Stanton Moore: It was amazing. The Galactic set was great, it was a lot of fun. Then I had my piano trio set, which was great and completely different than the Galactic set. It was really rewarding. The area was packed and we had at least two standing ovations. A lot of people hadn't really heard our latest piano trio album and we really worked hard on the campaign and the recording. It was very well received. It was really rewarding and amazing.

AAJ: Why did you name your latest album Conversations?

SM: For me, music is very conversational by nature. I felt that for the music that we were making together, it was especially true, it was especially conversational. We would get together and practice on Mondays. On Tuesdays we would play the gigs and rehearse for an hour and a half. So we often talked about what we played, and listened to recordings of the gigs, to try to improve it. When we play it is very back and forth, very conversational by nature. Besides, we chose songs that were either written by friends of ours or guys that each one of us had played with extensively. So these songs became like topics of conversation brought up by other peers of us. It just made a lot of sense to me to name it that way instead of finding a pretentious title.

AAJ: Being such a talented funk musician from New Orleans, why did you wait so long to record your first jazz-only album?

SM: There's a few reasons. One of them is that I was focusing on funk and groove, so I was busy doing that. Another reason is that I don't think I was quite ready to record a jazz album. Besides, I wrote a book, a DVD and a record for Groove Alchemy. Before recording a jazz album, I wanted to learn its vocabulary and to spend some years playing in a jazz ensemble to develop my jazz skills.

AAJ: Who are some of your favorite jazz musicians?

SM: Philly Joe Jones, Papa Jo Jones, specially his brush technique. I also like a lot Buddy Rich, specifically the years he played with Oscar Peterson. Another musician I really like is Max Roach, but the list could go on and on.

AAJ: How long did you take jazz drum lessons with Kenny Washington and Jeff Hamilton?

SM: With Kenny I took a couple of lessons. Each lesson was several hours long and Jeff is my partner in Crescent Cymbals, so we have played together, not necessarily in formal lessons, but I would go to his house and we'd open a bottle of wine. I'll start playing his drums with his brushes. It was a great time for him to show me stuff. I learned a lot by practicing with these guys, talking with them and listening to their records. They taught me to find my own voice in jazz.

AAJ: You funded Conversations through an Indiegogo campaign and you surpassed your goal of $35,000 in a month and a half. Were you surprised with the results?

SM: I'm not sure if I'm surprised, but I'm pleased. Because everybody rallied and supported me. I gave out a lot of T-shirts, vinyls and singles, so I also gave them something in exchange. But it was a lot of fun. I found a lot of people at the gigs who came and told me they had supported the campaign.

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