June 2008

Stanton Moore Trio - Emphasis! (On Parenthesis)
Telarc CD-83681
Format: CD
Released: 2008

by Shannon Holliday

Musical Performance ***1/2
Recording Quality ***1/2
Overall Enjoyment ***1/2

New Orleans drummer Stanton Moore has gotten his bass-drum kicking foot in the door on too many musical collaborations to mention in the space of this review, but listen to the flair with which he plays and you’ll quickly know why he’s in such high demand. When it comes to his own solo projects, however, Moore has clearly picked his starting lineup: jazz guitarist Will Bernard and keyboardist/funk master Robert Walter. The trio has been refining their style and playing off one another almost constantly since the 2006 release of Moore’s last album, III, and they mean business -- the business of having fun -- on their latest release, Emphasis! (On Parenthesis).

With 11 tracks coming in at just 46 minutes, the boys waste no time in making lively, original, unexpected jams. The opener "(Late night at the) Maple Leaf" finds a funky groove and locks in for five and a half minutes before slowing to a lounging, laid-back shuffle, then ending again on the upswing. In a creative nod to the Wu-Tang Clan, "Wissons (of Vu)" is a hip-hop-inspired composition with a "Spy vs. Spy" feel, featuring Walter wailing on a toy piano and Moore banging out the beats. "(I have) Super Strength" fulfills all funk expectations you’d have coming from a trio of this caliber and is reminiscent of Sly & the Family Stone’s funk/yodel number "Spaced Cowboy."

While Moore may have refined his list of contributors for this disc, the sound is anything but stripped down. These three musicians give one another plenty of room to spread out and play, each filling the space with skillfully complex contributions, and that’s clearly just what they do best.