Stanton Moore Trio Last Concert Cafe
December 5, 2008
Jazz shows don't always draw large crowds in Houston, especially for music that leans towards experimental funk, but the Stanton Moore Trio's show at The Last Concert Cafe was in fact very well attended, and the venue's outdoor stage was put to good use, despite the sub-50 degree temperatures (BRRR!) which for South Texas is considered COLD. Didn't seem to phase the crowd which was an interesting mix of music fans, from jazz lovers to rock & rollers, hippies, and post-jammers. The Stanton Moore Trio hit on a great blend of groove-oriented jazz, funk, and blues, driven by Moore's drumming that always felt right from the guts of New Orleans, as he merged his second line, cajun and blues grooves with swing and modern jazz. Moore was working up some steam on stage, and Robert Walter's keyboard rig was also immune from the cold, while guitarist June Yamagushi's strat may have been as sensitive to the cold weather as the audience was, but he handled it like a true pro. His method of stepping into solos bending strings with ease kept his sound in tune at all times, and if his guitar was feeling cold it at least sounded hot!
Moore is the driving force behind this particular bass-less instrumentation (drums, keyboards, and guitar) and he steers the ship with veteran leadership. The band played one long set (almost two hours) and added encores, using songs off of recent CDs such as Emphasis! On Parenthesis (Telarc, 2008) and Stanton Moore III (Telarc, 2006) while mixing in blues standards such as "Keep on Gwine" by James Booker. The band jammed on "Licorice" off of III which starts like "Carry On My Wayward Sun" and quickly gives up that similarity and just goes for the jam. "(Smell My) Special Ingredients" stretched out over a funky riff, and "Over (Compensatin')" featured Yamagushi's wailing guitar. All in all, the band was just grinding it out all night in front of an appreciative audience, and rather than wait for the audience to scream for "Moore," Stanton said "we'll skip the pretense and officially begin the encore now."
Moore is fairly well-known in Houston. One interesting side effect of post-Katrina life has been the outreach from surrounding communities to New Orleans (especially Houston), and the newly-established relationships among the musicians from these two major Metropoles. Moore's mentor Johnny Vidacovich, a legendary studio drummer from New Orleans, was one of the first to be welcomed in Houston with open arms, and many others found similar opportunities to expand their horizons here while New Orleans struggled. It has been a blessing for both cities, in that Houstonians enjoyed the chance to hear (and play with) a different class of musician close up, while New Orleanians learned that Houston, a city with over four million people, makes for a very large potential audience, and has a considerable bevy of talent of its own.
Keyboardist Robert Walter was a founding member of the Greyboy Allstars, and has played extensively with Astral Project's Vidacovich and James Singleton. Yamagushi, aka Juney June, has been a key ingredient of Papa Gros' band Papa Grows Funk, whose tag line is "rebuilding New Orleans one groove at a time." The Stanton Moore Trio was all New Orleans all night, and there's just something about that gumbo. It tastes good.
Related links: Robert Walter | Papa Grows Funk