By Andy J. Gordon
Stanton Moore brought one of his many projects, The Stanton Moore Trio, (http://www.stantonmoore.com) to the Wagatail Productions (www.wagatailpresents.com/) show at the Mint in LA on Thursday, May 6, 2010. The concert kicked off their new tour after a hectic Jazzfest schedule in New Orleans.
Along for the ride, and definitely adding an exciting element to the mix, was Anders Osborne (http://www.andersosborne.com/), a brilliant singer, guitarist, and songwriter. Both Moore and Osborne have new albums, and the show heavily featured their new material. A sold out crowd was treated to the Trio’s unique brand of jazz/fusion/funk/jam while Osborne contributed his blues inspired rock to the opening set.
Calling a band that is made up of musicians recognized as trendsetters on their respective instruments a “supergroup “ may be cliché, but when the trio is Stanton Moore on drums, Robert Walter on keys, and Will Bernard on guitar, it is not an overstatement. Each artist leads his own group, and has been recognized for his musical innovation and mastery. Moore is regarded as a world class drummer and adventurous bandleader whose main outlet, Galactic (www.galacticfunk.com/), stretches the boundaries of funk. His expertise across several musical genres is demonstrated by his involvement with the Trio, Streetsweeper Social Club (Tom Morello’s hard rock project), Midnight Disturbers (a drum and horn heavy-hitter ensemble), Garage A Trios, and several other projects. His Trio’s new album, “Groove Alchemy” has just been released, as well as an instructional DVD and book. Robert Walter (http://www.robertwalter.com/) is known for his brilliant keyboard work in the jazz/funk crossover arena. His 20th Congress has been successfully recording and performing for 15 years, and he also is a member of the Greyboy Allstars, the Robert Walter Trio, and Super Heavy Organ. Will Bernard (www.willbernard.com/) has been an innovative guitarist as part of several category-stretching groups, ranging from jazz, hip hop and world music to experimental music. He has performed and recorded with his own groups, as well as TJ Kirk, Robert Walters 20th Congress, and the Stanton Moore Trio.
Adding Anders Osborne to this powerhouse trio may seem odd on the surface. Osborne has called New Orleans home for the last 20 years after leaving his native Sweden. In New Orleans, he has built a reputation as a strong vocalist, Grammy winning songwriter, and blistering guitarist. By playing with many of the cities blues, funk, rock and jazz musicians, Osborne has absorbed much of the vibe, while developing his own style. Moore co-produced and plays on the new Osborne album, “American Patchwork,” and Osborne did a guest stint on Galactic’s new release, “Ya Ka May.” Walter plays keys on the new Osborne album as well, so bringing him along on the Trio’s tour made sense. Their live performance at the Mint was electrifying. Osborne’s rapid fire, yet rhythmic guitar riffs, and soulful vocals enhanced the trio’s groove, and had the crowd furiously dancing to the beat. After the Trio opened the set with two songs off their new album, Osborne came out to thunderous applause. He played several songs from his new disc, including “On the Road to Charlie Parker,” “Echoes of My Sins,” and “Darkness at the Bottom.” His lyrics and subject matter are a not so subtle reference to his past struggles with addiction, and contain a genuine soulfulness. The blistering set ended with “Ya Ya,” an Osborne song that has an infectious beat and catchy chorus, and “Love is Taking its Toll,” another new song with a scorching guitar solo.
After a short break, the Trio came back out and played a few more songs from their new album including “Squash Blossom,” and “Sprung Monkey.” Each song gave the performers room to jam. Walter and Bernard both delivered creative solos, and Moore laid down a heavy back beat with an occasional drum solo. Before playing with great enthusiasm, Moore praised James Booker, who wrote “Keep on Gwine,” a cover the Trio recorded on the Trio’s new release. They closed the show with “(Late Night at the) Maple Leaf,” a track from 2008’s Trio album “Emphasis! On Parenthesis.”
It was disappointing that Anders Osborne did not come out for an encore during the second set, but the Trio provided a great night of music. This “supergroup” plays together beautifully. Hopefully they can avoid the pitfalls that have broken up other all-star combinations, and continue to form a cohesive unit. If tonight’s show was any indication, the tour will be a scorching success, and music fans will be lucky to see them together.
Photos courtesy of Brigitte Bard and Andy J. Gordon.