Stanton Moore

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Stanton Moore is widely known as the driving funk engine for Galactic and Dragon Smoke as well as the slinky lubricant in his organ trio with Robert Walter and Will Bernard, and a controlled mayhem maker with Garage-A-Trois, but his jazz side is something known only to New Orleans locals. Moore rectifies this blank spot for the larger listening public with his utterly winning new album Conversations (released April 15 on DI fave Royal Potato Family), where he shows off his subtle side with pianist David Torkanowsky and bassist James Singleton. The title is aptly chosen as the trio embodies the core charms of the jazz piano trio, where one is allowed to eavesdrop on the intricate, empathetic interplay of three utter pros weaving through a perfectly chosen song cycle.

Gimme_Stanton_Album

Conversations slots in nicely between the Ahmad Jamal Trio’s The Awakening and Ellington-Mingus-Roach’s Money Jungle, dense but flowing playing applied to material with clear personal connection for the musicians. While chops abound, it’s what the three weave together that’s most compelling about Moore’s first foray into straight jazz. Yes, Torkanowsky plays with the versatility of John Hicks and the homespun sophistication of Erroll Garner, and Singleton is both a visceral presence and a spinner of terrific, bowed bass elegance in the vein of the great Scott LaFaro, but it’s what happens when you put them with one of the most focused, potent drummers of his generation that really pricks up one’s ears. And it must be noted, Moore is simply stunning throughout, a creature of pure groove but this time with shades of Elvin Jones and Philly Joe Jones. There is so much communication happening in these pieces, including a good deal of listening and laying back in ways that elevate the compositions and what the other players are doing.

New Orleans, understandably, looms large on this album, which came about after the trio woodsheded for a year-and-a-half Tuesday residency at Snug Harbor. The city also surfaces in the song selection, all except one piece written by New Orleans composers including the trio themselves. However, this is no Mardi Gras shindig but a happy reminder of the richly diverse jazz traditions afoot in New Orleans, a river source for so much jazz that emerged elsewhere, something Moore and his compatriots highlight in unforced ways throughout Conversations. This is an album to lean into and luxuriate in, a fresh angle on a player beloved by jam and festival fans, and a bang-up showcase for Singleton and Torkanowsky, who both merit much further inspection for any serious jazz head.

Here’s what Stanton had to say in the Impound’s drummer survey.

read on for Moore’s answers

Ezra Lipp

Hogs of Change

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Ezra Lipp by John Margaretten

Ezra Lipp by John Margaretten

No matter what setting the Impound has encountered Ezra Lipp in – the Ben Harper-esque folk-rock of Huckle, the classic rock pounding of Guitarmageddon, gliding behind pop-rock singer-songwriter Sean Hayes, skipping across genres with Lebo & Friends – he appears and sounds utterly natural, as if each of these varied environments is his organic state as a drummer. Versatility like this isn’t wholly uncommon today where working musicians have to figure out all sorts of ways to shake their moneymaker in order to pay the bills, but Lipp exhibits a steely-eyed intensity and no-holding-back intensity that speaks of an artist that gives himself to the moment, open ears craning to catch what the music needs as his body blurs beautifully to tease out the right moves and deliver them right on time. His sense of swing and power remind DI a bit of a young Art Blakey, a pretty swell model of what a fundamentally terrrific percussionist can be. Our gut says Lipp is going to be one of the greats one day, and it’s not going to suck to witness his evolution on the way – Lipp is just plain fun to watch work.

Hogs of Change

Hogs of Change

While his earlier work has found him working in largely rock-oriented projects, Lipp has revived a duo with flavorful, Benovento-esque keyboardist Eli Geller that’s redolent of jazz, free form improvisation, and melodically-minded experimentation. Hogs of Change, whose roots go back at the University of Vermont during the early 2000s, does bear some resemblance to Marco’s celebrated Duo with drummer Joe Russo [check out Russo’s installment of Gimme Some Skin] in that the pair use similar instrumentation and work in the instrumental format, but where they share deeper, truer kinship with the Duo is in their adventurous, beauty courting ways. Possibilities seem wide open with the Hogs of Change, and that’s always the most exciting thing for a certain stripe of listener who hungers for something more than cultured conformity. They’ve got an appealing nose for good covers (see their treatment of Blondie’s “Heart of Glass” below), and like the best duos past, they’re charmingly attentive to one another, pushing and prodding in ways that go beyond practice into places of instinct and rudimentary telepathy, the music rising, falling and snapping in time to their widening eyes or groovily nodding heads. More basically, there’s something happening here and while it may not be exactly clear yet it’s got the unmistakable aura of excellence in budding germination.

Here’s what Ezra had to say in the Impound’s drummer survey.

read on for Lipp’s answers

Cody Dickinson

North Mississippi Allstars

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Seasick Steve

Seasick Steve

When Seasick Steve gives you some advice it’s best to pay attention. Steve, that ragtag ancient-future bluesman with a beard and untamed pickin’ style to rival the mighty Billy Gibbons, seems to see through shit that fogs up most folks’ windshields. So, when he pulled the North Mississippi Allstars in close for a word they sharpened up. Steve told ‘em, “You are the one, you are the link, you have to keep it primitive and take it to the people.” The band answers this call to arms on the superbly raw, dirt floor ready World Boogie Is Coming (released September 3 on Songs of The South Records and available on iTunes & here).

By turns jubilant and downright nasty, World Boogie Is Coming – a “favorite valediction” of the late, utterly great Jim Dickinson, father of NMA’s Luther & Cody Dickinson – is both steeped in tradition and fired up to break with it, a record that feels as old as horse-drawn carriages and modern as some new upper drug.

Gimme_Cody_WorldBoogieAlbum

Fife & drum sashays with hip-hop-ready beats and sizzurp-y production, all the while teased, spanked and twirled by Luther’s positively lascivious guitar (and other string things) attack. A who’s who of roots and blues musicians throw down including Kenny Brown, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Lightnin’ Malcolm, Duwayne and Garry Burnside, Sid and Steve Selvidge, and legendary longhair Robert Plant, who blows some pretty mean harp.

The whole album speaks to Plant’s notion of being “lashed to the blues,” a calling stronger than mere inclination that’s bound to an electrified landscape of rivers, hills and winding back roads filled with real people living both low ‘n’ lean and high on the hog. World Boogie Is Coming takes them tight ol’ blues and stretches ‘em out with prodding, groping fervor. This feels dangerous, homebrew and straight razors just off-camera, rescuing the blues from their yuppified, sanitized, tidy, white-people-at-a-festival contemporary existence, returning them to a land of dry brush and ice tea where trucks sit up on blocks, hound dogs bark, mosquitoes and cicadas feast, and government men best step lightly less they stumble on a still or a hot plate bubbling Sudafed into something meaner and more profitable. Gimme_Cody_DiscoBall There are good folks here, too – lots of them – but this project is dedicated to un-gussying-up the genre. By reconnecting with the local, poor-as-fuck but alive-as-hell underpinnings and putting them in the same room as 21st century innovations and global-minded awareness of the blues’ presence in places well outside of the American South World Boogie Is Coming lights a beacon for others to gather around and join in keeping this music correct in the most scrumptiously visceral & communal ways.

Cody Dickinson

Cody Dickinson

A big part of the atmosphere here and the NMA’s sound in general is the seductively organic pulse Cody Dickinson generates. It’s so goddamn natural it seems as if the earth is speaking, the rocks and stones transmitting their preferences through Cody’s lanky, giddily pummeling limbs. Weather systems stir in his style, thunder and rain expressing their force and delicacy, and always the man making it happen listening attentively to the players around him as well as the audience taking it in. Cody is sharp as a butcher’s blade, cutting through bullshit to get down to the bone. Put another way, he’s like that insane 100-year-old dude that’s been blowing minds forever in some way, way, way back juke who simultaneously possesses a childlike delight in contemporary rhythm innovations – remember this band cut a Chopped and Screwed EP and their previous few albums showed increasing savvy with up-to-the-minute production techniques. More than any of this wordy flailing, it always seems to DI that Cody is trying to locate the drum inside of others and whack it just right. It’s an admirable mission and one he’s far more successful at than he probably realizes.

Here’s what Cody had to say in the Impound’s drummer survey.

read on for Cody’s answers

Mike Dillon

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Mike Dillon

Mike Dillon

While critics and “serious” music fans endlessly praise and muse over the likes of Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart, few pause to savor (and salute) the musicians with a pulse carrying the torch for groovy outsider art-rock-jazz-prog-whatever music. To wit, how master percussionist, persuasive blue-eyed MC, and all around creative dynamo Mike Dillon isn’t universally loved and applauded amongst modern music’s intelligentsia. So be it, the kids who read liner notes, gobble acid, and spend long hours inside Mahavishnu Orchestra, The Beastie Boys, Art Ensemble of Chicago and Minutemen albums are likely already switched onto Dillon and his wayward but ever evolving sounds, be it his pioneering work with Critters Buggin, his role as wicked foil for Les Claypool for many years, guest turns with Polyphonic Spree and Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, a long term gig as Ani DiFranco’s rhythm ace, or any number of countless tangents with saxophonic devil Skerik.

Dillon is restless but dedicated, a digger for treasures in crevices others wimp out on exploring, emerging with a fresh silver grill he’s fashioned with his own mallets and sharp incisors. For as outré as his work can be, he’s a groove machine, teasing out captivating drum parts and ear-snagging vibe licks that make one wriggle like a worm on a hook, the body charged by his zap and slither, taken places by this ridiculously skilled percussionist that one can’t predict but welcome once the trip has gotten underway. Mike D is an imposing figure, carved out of wood like a true Fight Club champion, stage diving (he’s done so a couple times on DI’s Editor/Publisher Dennis Cook) with the sincere lustiness of a young punk and yet handling his various instruments as only a truly practiced and naturally gifted player can. Contradictions abound in Dillon, but almost always in appealing ways, where tradition dances with innovation as just plain freaky energies crackle and hiss within the inner workings. Dillon is the musical embodiment of Mark Twain’s aphorism, “Life is short, break the rules. Forgive quickly. Kiss slowly. Love truly. Laugh uncontrollably. And never regret anything that makes you smile.”

Mike Dillon Band Studio Debut

Mike Dillon Band Studio Debut

His focus for the past year or so is the simply named Mike Dillon Band, where sparks and fur fly as this attuned, instinctive, very young aggregate locks minds and limbs with Dillon. As last year’s killer shows revealed – including two highlight sets from the 2012 High Sierra Music Festival, where the band returns again this year – all of Dillon’s sonic exploration over the years haven’t been as random as one might think given the cool mastication of many flavors he achieves with Carly Meyers (trombone, Moog Taurus pedals, vocals), Cliff Hines (guitar, bass) and Adam Gertner (drums). The depth of this combo continues to thicken as continued touring reveals greater interconnectivity as well as greater openness to experiment individually in this context.

Urn (released September 2012 by the reliably excellent Royal Potato Family), the studio debut of this lineup, is some of the craftiest, most swinging compositions yet from Dillon, a crucial aspect of his talents that’s often overlooked because of his he-man musicianship and undeniable stage presence. While Urn contains some of Dillon’s trademark scatological rhymin’ – he shouts “motherfucker!” a dozen times on the Ween-wishes-they-wrote-it “Leather On” – there are also moments of unvarnished beauty and luminous strangeness in some of the most well conceived pieces he’s ever penned (as well as seen successfully executed by his collaborators). “River Is Burning” is both old timey and extraterrestrial, while “Cedar” is a Middle Eastern tinged cousin to Buck 65 with inspired sax work from guest Mike Southerland, who mixes up Klezmer and Ayler in a most delightful way on this track. Opener “DVS” struts in like Mr. Natural after a good limbering up, stride wide and riding a honking buzz. The impulsive zaniness of Reefer Madness informs the swoop and slide of “Sunny Is Drunk,” and every other cut is an evocative, thought provoking bit o’ fun from one of the most promising, switched-on outfits Dillon’s ever been involved in – and that’s saying something given the man’s pedigree. The Mike Dillon Band is on tour right the fuck now, so check out their itinerary here and get to a show so they can sweat on you and make you gyrate happily!

Here’s what the electric vibraphone, tabla, etc. pro had to say to the Impound’s percussionist survey.

read on for Mike D’s answers

Cochrane McMillan

Tea Leaf Green

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Cochrane McMillan by Suzy Perler

Cochrane McMillan by Suzy Perler

Take a good look at percussionist Cochrane McMillan when he plays – it’s something that bears attention. All focused intensity, he moves with streamlined power, clearly on the trail of something, hunting down the right rhythms in pieces with a tenacity and controlled strength that pulls one in. As compelling as each element of Tea Leaf Green can be, McMillan sometimes, sans solos and showiness, snatches one’s focus in a way that’s hard to shake once it takes hold – the notion of a whisper being louder than a scream filled out by his skillful limbs.

The most recent addition to TLG, McMillan has become a wonderful foil for longtime drummer Scott Rager, whose swing and enveloping motion have long fueled these SF-based modern rockers. While two stickmen going at it simultaneously can frequently be a muddle, this pairing intertwines in a way that only thickens and elevates Tea Leaf’s low end, which is completed by bass beast Reed Mathis (check out Reed’s Hey Shredder entry here). To hear McMillan with Tea Leaf is to hear an already eloquent rock combo speak with a cool new accent. His sharp ears and tasteful playing pick up on hitherto unheard spaces in their catalogue, and TLG has produced their best work since his arrival, a presence felt in the muscular of their most recent studio album, Radio Tragedy! Bopping between his kit, a tambourine and myriad other percussion tools, McMillan is nuance personified, the raised eyebrow and the smile hiding in the corner of the mouth inside this music, expression given form through his empathetic playing.

Here’s what Cochrane had to say in the Impound’s drummer survey.

read on for McMillan’s answers

Joe Russo

Furthur, Benevento Russo Duo, Shpongle

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Joe Russo by Jay Blakesberg

Watching Joe Russo work a drum kit is theatre in motion, a story unfolding in sweat and limbs, the emotions and ideas of a piece playing across this generational standout’s face. When you add your ears to the mix he brings you bodily into the tale, a reminder in our bones of rhythm’s role as storytelling’s pacesetter. A bicentennial baby – he snuck into this world at the tail end of 1976 – Russo is a true blue American musician with a wide open perspective on the role of percussion in an almost ridiculous array of settings, the melting pot ideal in beat-making form.

He’s as adept at the avant-bounce of his longtime duo collaboration with keyboard ninja Marco Benevento (where the daring pair marries classic 60s jazz keyboard-drum dynamics to WHATEVER the fuck falls into their imaginations) as he is as the revitalizing drum force in Grateful Dead torch keepers Furthur. And between these two poles one can find Russo exploring modern electronic grooves in Shpongle as well as past stints with projects as diverse as the Gene Ween Band, American Babies and Younger Brother. If there is one defining thread to these divergent outlets its Russo’s unerring ability to find THE right pulse for the specific moment.

His feel and range are somewhat ludicrous, yet he never comes off as some drum clinic guru. His undisguised delight at finding the mythical “pocket,” even in downright perverse music, always carries over, the technique and endless hours of study and practice invisible when he’s onstage or immersed in studio exploration. This knack for being completely present for the song at hand is one of Russo’s gifts which spills over onto his collaborators. If he’s behind the drums it’s a good bet that everyone else playing with him will be a bit more dialed in, even if only to what Russo is laying down, and the results will be richer, more interesting and more unpredictable (in the finest sense) than they would be without him.

Here’s what Russo had to say in the Impound’s drummer survey.

read on for Joe’s answers

Andrew Barr

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The Barr Brothers by Andre Guerette

If one had to settle on a single word descriptor of percussionist Andrew Barr the best might be “sublime.” There is great power to the drum center of The Slip, Surprise Me Mr. Davis and most recently his collaboration with brother Brad Barr in the aptly titled The Barr Brothers, but also something more fluid, elusive and altogether intoxicating, a roll and glide that’s far more alluring than simple crash ‘n’ bang. Judicious use of force, a sensibility that stretches outward to Africa, and an obvious sense of play missing from most high end players further set Andrew Barr apart from the pack. Watch his face as he navigates through music as diverse as the folksy bounce of SMMD or the cosmic headcharge of The Slip onstage or the knotted, fascinating, melodic spaces he explores with the Marco Benevento Trio. What’s revealed through his expressions (and really his entire body language) is a musician on a quest for fresh sounds grounded in inarguably rich foundations.

Andrew’s prowess is on full display on the long awaited self-titled debut from The Barr Brothers, which arrives September 27th on Secret City Records. Like its drummer, the album is a complex and well, subtle work, touching on thorny ontology, God and The Devil running through clouds and morning fog. It’s also beautiful, quietly moving and a further extension of the Barr Brothers’ seemingly endless vision. Time spent with this grower – a kindred spirit to Barr buds The Low Anthem though with a winning, unexpected Congotronics streak – is time well spent. One feels pulled through a few veils that surround the waking world, drawn into the silken truths that hide just outside of normal sight. And it’s full of lovely songs, too.

Here’s what Andrew had to say in the Impound’s drummer survey.

read on for Mr. Barr’s answers

Dave Brogan

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Dave Brogan by John Margaretten

Tasty.

This is the word more than any other folks have used to describe Dave Brogan. Well, at least in my company, this one comes up a lot – more than 50 times by my count. I first picked up on it in 2008 as I was really getting to know Brogan and began keeping a loose count. It’s a word often uttered like a foodie savoring a morsel of artisanal charcuterie as someone watches him have his way with a drum kit. His movements are pleasurable continuity, a confident player who loves swinging just outside his comfort zone, fingertips stretching into chaos and improvisation but his main punch reminiscent of iron percussion machines like John Bonham and Jim Gordon (Derek & The Dominoes, Delaney & Bonnie), where wicked technique and brawn mingle so, so nicely. Dave lets you see the work of drumming only when it is work, mostly rolling smooth, a smiling foundation behind whatever musicians he’s backing at the moment.

While his main gig is California pop-rock gems ALO, he plays in a variety of settings, studio and live, and always adapts like butter on warm toast – be it pounding the living hell out of his gear in M8 Mailbox, streaming along all modern like in Beck tribute Newfangled Wasteland, or working the brushes like a proper SoCal cowpoke in Brokedown In Bakersfield. No less than a half dozen really good bands have let slip in my company that they’d snap up Brogan in a heartbeat if he came up on the open market. My theory to his widespread appeal is not just his raw talent and practice/road time won skills but his general vibe. Musicians feel secure in stretching themselves towards their best stuff with Dave Brogan at their back.

It doesn’t hurt that he’s a heck of a budding singer-songwriter in his own right – his 2008 solo debut, Thunderbird Sun Transformation, is a real jewel (it’s actually better than my original glowing review might suggest) – not to mention a thoughtful arranger, quality harmony vocalist and general catalyst for good music. So, more than a terrific drummer, Brogan is a terrific musician who happens to specialize in percussion.

Oh, he’s also a pretty darn good writer. He was one of the Impound’s initial cadre of contributors, chronicling ALO’s travels last year for DI. And he’s got a swell drum blog that’s been evolving nicely this year. He’s definitely onto some next level drummer stuff, and while non-drummers may not grock it all there’s still a good deal to glean from Dave’s observations.

Here’s what Brogan had to say in the Impound’s drummer survey.

read on for Dave’s answers