Stanton Moore has delivered an insight into his highly anticipated tribute to the late Allen Toussaint following the release of lead single Java.
The Galactic drummer had planned to record a brand new album for 2017.
But with recording set to start, Moore learned of Toussaint’s passing and an alternative plan was hatched.
Java is one of two instrumentals on With You In Mind: The Songs Of Allen Toussaint – both of which feature New Orleans jazz royalty Nicholas Payton and Donald Harrison.
“We went into the studio and then we found out that Allen had passed,” revealed Moore. “It didn’t feel right to not acknowledge his passing. So we said ‘you know we’ve got to do something in tribute’.
“We wanted to focus on his compositions and spotlight them in the best way.
“The idea was not just to rehash these tunes because who can do it better than Allen already did it?
“This is a very special project and is a true musical collaboration. Being in New Orleans is like having access to the most amazing musical tool box you could ever possibly imagine.
“So we just dug into that tool box.”
Moore reached out to the New Orleans community and the offers to collaborate came flying in.
“We said ‘this tune needs a vocalist, who should we call – let’s call Cyril Neville,” added Moore. “He wound up singing on five tunes.
“Another example is my snare drum street beat stuff…I’ve developed my approach to Second Line by mixing Johnny Vidacovich, Herlin Riley and Shannon Powell.
“But I don’t want to just steal from those guys and steal their thing. I want to study it to the point where I can turn all that off and then make a blend of it.
“So on Java that’s pretty much a blend of what I’ve naturally absorbed from borrowing from those guys. This project is truly a group collaboration – all these friends showed up for us and I’m super excited about the record.”
Besides his solo projects, studio and TV work, Moore is the drummer of Galactic, the funky New Orleans conglomeration now in its third decade of touring.
And he still finds time to record and travel as a trio with David “Tork” Torkanowsky (keys) and James Singleton (bass).
After learning of Toussaint’s death, the three musicians immediately shelved their planned album and went into creative hyperdrive.
“We already had studio time booked and we couldn’t wait,” added Moore. “It’s not like we wrote out all these arrangements ahead of time. We were flying by the seat of our pants.”
As they began working up pieces of Toussaint’s vast repertoire, it quickly became a vocal album with guest singers.
Supplementing their trio with some of New Orleans’s living legends – and their friends – they reimagined Toussaint’s songs, conceptualising and building out an album on the fly.
“I didn’t get to work with Allen as often as I’d have liked to,” added Moore. “But I did get to. Through the years we crossed paths a few times. The first time he played with us was also the first time we played the Saenger Theater.
“Allen Toussaint wrote the soundtrack to New Orleans. He came out of an environment that no longer exists. The level of talent and ability and artistry that he embodied – we won’t see this again.”