album review: Stanton Moore – Conversations

listen here.
My first exposure to Stanton was on a Drumeo free lesson, in which the man showed his chops and clearly had a wonderful time playing the drums.  The picture of him smiling on this cover isn’t an act: this dude is happy playing the drums.  To see this much joy come from someone doing something almost makes me feel uneasy, but it should be something to aspire to.

He jokes about this in the Drumeo video but this guy has probably one of the loosest snare drums ever recorded.  Artistic choice, why not do it. He also grew up in Louisiana, which helps put the style of jazz on this release into perspective (new orleans/ragtime).

Now I have a hard time listening to ‘newer’ jazz and blues, not because I don’t think it’s good, but I just have such an affection towards Charlie Parker, Max Roach, Art Blakey, etc that I feel like the pinnacle of jazz was hit some 60 years ago, and now we’re all trying to play catch up to what they’ve done, but all in the spirit of respecting what they’ve done. This just puts me in an odd perspective when wanting to enjoy the music, because most times when I’ll listen to newer jazz I hear those older musicians in their music and would rather listen to that stuff. There’s probably no way to write this paragraph and not sound pompous, but I poured a lot of time into the original masters and their music really hit home with me.

But that being said, this is a solid effort.  This music pays respect to those musicians with the style, but takes on a ragtime, more melodic style, instead of the typical scale and improvisation back and forth.  The also leave Mr Moore a lot of room to breathe and create rhythms that aren’t similar to the typical drum patterns and styles from the 50’s, etc.  In this regard the album is strongest. The majority of the songs have space for a drum solo and that remains the constant throughout the release.  I mean, what would you expect when the album is named after the drummer?  Most songs are upbeat and Stanton easily carries the tunes, with the piano and bass complimenting his playing. The drum solo breakdowns are all different showing off his versatility in playing.

This album is strongest with the drummer crowds, but the piano playing is reminiscent of old saloon and ragtime style, with compliments from the bass.  This can fit in easily with other straight forward jazz artists (Louis Armstrong, etc) and if you know how to do the Charleston this could work as dance music, too.  You can find more of his work at his website.

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album review: This is Cinema – Cycle

This is Cinema  listen here.
“The group took shape when songwriter Ben Babbitt invited engineer Theo Karon to move his recording studio into the basement of Hotel Earth, a Chicago coach house shared by a number of musicians and artists. The musician/engineer relationship quickly turned into a full-on collaborative songwriting and recording effort, frequently joined by an ever-evolving circle of contributors.” from the Whistler website.

Similar to the boy on the cover his at peace, yet unnerving look on his face sets the tone for this release.  The album takes a straight forward, yet creepy feel getting it’s point across, focusing on monotonous yet driving drum rhythms with a constant build and layering of instruments and sounds.  Let’s not forget reverb. The vocals in this album are used like an instrument instead of creating an ‘obvious’ melody or hook.  They’re ambient and elongated with background vocals added to provide extra depth. One of my favorite tracks, Hands Can Grow, turns into an almost industrial-african electronic percussive drum loop, climaxing the album.

The last song is a great resolution, ending with strings and delayed ambiance for an unnerving settling to the album.  It’s a shame there was only one release as it would have been interesting to hear the growth of the collaboration. Even as a one off it’s a solid effort if you’re looking for something to be challenged with and still chill to. LP’s can be purchased via.