Stanton Moore – Flyin' The Koop (2002)

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by S. Victor Aaron

To kick off the Acid (jazz) Redux series, I’m gonna cheat and start with an album review I already wrote back in September of 2002. But since the artist in question is a good ol’ boy from Louisiana and the album in question is so danged bitchin’, I couldn’t think of a better way to start yapping about this much misunderstood but oh so far out genre…

Acid Jazz.

What exactly is that, anyway? Legend has it that a music critic came up with that term in the mid eighties to describe the retro soul-jazz of the British combo, The James Taylor Quartet, simply because he couldn’t neatly pigeon hole the music into anything else. Since then, it’s been a catchall to describe nearly any kind of jazz that grooves. Organist Jimmy Smith might be considered a founder, although acid itself barely existed, much less acid jazz back in 1956.

Medeski Martin and Wood (MMW), Soul Coughing, Soulive, Sex Mob, and of late, John Scofield, are considered the major forces of the sub-genre of today. For the last five or so years, New Orleans-based Galactic have been one of the best practitioners of the acid jazz of the Taylor variety.

Earlier this year, Galactic’s drummer, a dweebish-looking fellow named Stanton Moore released a follow up to a nice, one-off collaboration with Charlie Hunter and Skerik that Moore nominally led (All Kooked Out). This time around, Stan went into the studio a lot more serious minded and the results make that rather evident.

Flyin’ the Koop sounds as if it is attempting to take the Rahsaan Roland Kirk/James Brown/Thelonius Monk crossbreeding of the Hunter-led TJ Kirk band to the next level. While ‘Kirk fell just short in blending together all the disparate elements successfully, Moore’s healthy Meters and ‘Fess influences provide the crucial last ingredient to make it all work well.

It also didn’t hurt to have the right personnel, either, and the leader chose well, pulling in bassist Chris Wood from MMW, fellow New Orleaner saxman Skerik, Greyboy Allstars alumnus Karl Denson on sax and flute and another N.O. sessionist, guitarist Brian Seeger, for several tracks. Denson and Skerik provide a front line that carry out the sometimes-tricky hooks in the melody while Moore pulls out so many rhythm tricks from his repertoire you wonder if there are truly infinite ways to groove. The lead off track “Tang The Hump” demonstrates this quartet working well together in that fashion.

This set, however, is one of Chris Woods’ best moments on record. Sounding much like Ron Carter on…err…acid at times, his hard-driving aggressive acoustic and electric bass method matches the drummer to form a perfect, keyboard-less rhythm section. His lines are funky in a very memorable way that will stick in your mind much longer than the Skerik/Denson team. “Falling Off The Floor” and “Magnolia Triangle” are but two examples of how Woods anchors a song firmly in the pocket, freeing up Moore to innovate. Even when he pulls out the bow for the brief drums/cello duet “Bottoms Up”, it’s still a hard grooving cello.

Perhaps the one thing that sets this acid jazz record above all others, though, is that it is the rare one where each of the songs groove in ways totally different from each other. “Launcho Diablo” simply rocks while “Prairie Sunset” is a mid-tempo light groover with counter rhythms and unusual saxophone parts. In “Things Falls Apart”, the jazz guitarist Seeger turns into a metal-hip hop screamer, even making his axe resemble a wordless rapper at one point. “Amy’s Lament” sounds like a solemn march, and even there Stanton still finds rhythmic opportunities. “Hunch” is an unabashed James Brown salute. “For The Record” is fine funk jazz with blues at its core. “Organized Chaos” is the sort of avant-garde hip-hop that might be found on a recent MMW record.

Stanton Moore leaves little ground uncovered in his search for the rare groove. He sets out to do this with relatively little reliance on sampling, synthesizers and none on other keyboards or even drum soloing. What you’re left with is something that will tingle your mind as much as it will move your feet. The town that brought innovative music to the world at the beginning of the 20th century looks poised to do so again at the beginning of the 21st. It may be a bit extreme to state that, but with guys like Stanton Moore around, you can’t dismiss the possibility entirely.

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S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on,, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at
S. Victor Aaron

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