Stanton Moore, Conversations (Royal Potato Family)

Stanton Moore, Conversations, album cover, OffBeat Magazine, May 2014

Stanton Moore plays Jazz Fest on Thursday, May 1—Zatarain’s/WWOZ Jazz Tent, 2:50 p.m.

This record will be a surprise to those who only know Moore’s funk work with Galactic/Dragon Smoke, etc. With ace compadres James Singleton on bass and David Torkanowsky on piano, this trio has recorded a great record of both standards and rare cuts of modern New Orleans jazz with tunes penned by the band as well as James Black, Steve Masakowski, and Evan Christopher.

The band has featured much of this music in several Tuesday night residencies at Snug Harbor; it is no surprise how well the band plays together. It is appropriate that Moore has titled this album Conversations because it is evident in the music that the players here are really listening to each other. They play off each other in the way that Singleton plays the low 3-note riff to “Tchefunkta” against Moore’s high-toned drum work.

His work on the rarely recorded James Black cut “In the Keyhole” is as hard-hitting and in the pocket as his beautiful bow work on “Prayer” is flowing. Torkanowsky here is his usual hip self, fingering the keys with as much elegance as anyone but also adding some grease and funk to dirty up the grooves. And Moore here is wonderful in multiple grooves from the 5/4 swing of “Magnolia Triangle” to reflective slow time of “Waltz for All Souls.”

During the breaks in “Tchefunkta,” it is easy to imagine Moore’s trademark grins as he adds accents between the piano chords. Moore even gets the band to remake “Paul Barbarin’s Second Line” into a darting, newer harmonic sound with the piano chords pushing the drums’ mix of second-line and modern-jazz rhythms. Even with that, these musicians know the unique twists and turns of New Orleans modern jazz and exhibit that expertise for all to hear.