One big hip-hop jam band in Aspen |

One big hip-hop jam band in Aspen

Joel Stonington
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Rapper Chali 2Na, from Jurassic 5, is a special guest... (Joel Stonington)

ASPEN ” Stanton Moore, the drummer for Galactic, might be one of the most sought after session drummers on the scene today. After all, he hardly has time for all the requests with the likes of John Medeski, Lyrics Born and Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello banging on his door.

“2008 is probably going to be one of my biggest years so far,” Moore said in a phone interview Wednesday from Salt Lake City, where Galactic performed before it plays a sold-out Belly Up show on Thursday.

Moore talked at hyper-speed of a half-dozen albums he is working on with various bands and musicians. Some of the most exciting are unusual collaborations that seem to have become the norm with Moore through a career that began in the mid 1990s, both with New Orleans funksters Galactic and as a solo artist.

The most recent release razed traditional standards with the pairing of Galactic with various hip-hop artists on a 2007 album, “From the Corner to the Block,” featuring MCs such as Lyrics Born, Gift of Gab (of Blackalicious) and Leteef the Truth Speaker.

Galactic has paired up with one of those featured on the album, Chali 2na, of Jurassic 5-fame, for the next few months.

“Chali has been doing a whole lot of stuff with us,” Moore said. “He probably comes out for about three different portions of three songs. We’ve learned a bunch of his tunes. A few of those haven’t been released. We do a couple of Jurassic 5 tunes. We’ve always dug them.”

The album begins with a song as catchy as a deer tick and hot enough to garner a spot on a Verizon commercial. Featuring Lyrics Born, the tune launches with a funk line from the Hammond B-3, and then Moore comes in with a low-level, heavy beat so that when the rapping starts, it works.

“Lyrics was the first guy that we actually approached,” Moore said . “He had toured with us. He would open with us. We knew him and we knew that conceptually he would be a good fit. We knew that he knew a lot of guys who would be interested in what we were doing. He got us a few other guys.”

But the project wasn’t the easiest to put together. As Moore said, “It was a really long process.”

Moore had just laid down some drum parts, the other musicians ” Ben Ellman on sax, Robert Mercurio on bass, Jeffrey Raines on guitar and Richard Vogel on keyboards ” were writing on top of that.

“Then the storm hit,” Moore said, talking of Hurricane Katrina, which hit in August 2005. “So they went and recorded stuff in the Poconos. It took a while to get the songs structured. Then it took a while to get the MCs involved. It takes a while to get your shed lined up with these MCs. We were also touring all throughout that as well.”

It might be out of the consciousness of much of the nation, but for Moore, who still lives in New Orleans, the storm still is present every day. Though directly after the storm was the hardest.

“It’s still super frustrating,” Moore said. “Progress is very slow. It’s certainly not coming from the government or anybody that should be helping. Unfortunately, that’s the case. Little baby steps all the way. It’s an uphill battle, but what can you do?”

Regardless of the uphill battle in the hometown, the storm doesn’t seem to have slowed Moore’s career in the least. Apart from his work with Galactic, a band with a relatively relentless touring schedule during the last decade, Moore has a bevy of side projects.

Perhaps most interesting is an album Moore recorded in late 2007 with Tom Morello, the guitar player from Rage Against the Machine and MC Raymond “Boots” Riley from the Coup. Moore said the project is called Street Sweeper.

“In a very short description it’s riff rap,” Moore said. “With my drumming and Boots Riley MCing on top of it. It’s very cool, I’m very into it.”

It’s unclear if the group will tour at any point, though Moore said he’d be into it. But for the time being he is looking forward to getting the album out.

Moore said he also recently completed the final touches of a new Garage A Trois album, in which Marco Benevento has replaced guitar player Charlie Hunter. That should be out by the time the trio plays at the New Orleans Jazz Festival.

“My drive is more just coming from … it’s just the person I am,” Moore said. “It’s coming from a drive, loving what you’re doing and wanting to get it out, get it heard.”

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