Drummer Stanton Moore’s "III" is one of the funkiest albums to slide down the pike in many a year. With Robert Walter on a killer Hammond B3 and Will Bernard on a sizzling guitar, the results are part MMW and part JBs, but wholly unique and captivating at the same time. The arrangements are as breath taking as the interplay.
Opening with organist Walter’s "Poison Pushy," on which Stanton establishes his mastery of the traps and guitar and organ both bust into a deeply funky groove, the stage is set. Walter’s "Licorice" is slinky and chock full of impressive changes, all of which showcase the drummer’s total command of the kit. For "Big ‘Uns Get the Ball Rolling," again from principle song writer Walter," the tempo is spry, quick-witted and greasy. "Chilcock" brings in tenor saxophonist Skerick and trombone-meister Mark Mullins, the tune’s author, fleshing out the funk that much more. Mullins is especially tasty here.
"(Don’t Be Comin’ With No) Weak Sauce," from Walter, is especially deep in the pocket with dazzling bass and drum interplay and wicked B3 and guitar brush strokes on top. Guitarist Bernard’s "Dunkin’ In The Deep" reminds of a Zawinul and Zappa stew for its clever horn interplay, and James Brown is all over Walter’s "Maple Plank," a tune that showcases guitar and drums, especially.
The version of Abdullah Ibrahim’s "Water From An Ancient Well" features wonderful horn work and a subdued tom tom. Moore is adventurous and spellbinding in the take on the Led Zepplin staple "When the Levee Breaks," which has an almost second line funereal drum over which organ and guitar especially rise to the occasion. This is no rock and roll tune, but a jazzy introspective and challenging version of a tune that, in this context, celebrates a still un-rescued gulf coast basin.
The closer is the traditional gospel tune "I Shall Not Be Moved," on which Bernard offers a beautiful slide over muted, muffled toms and Walter’s organ delves deep into the church tradition.
The sum may be closer to Medeski Martin and Wood than to Cannonball Adderley, but is a delight either way you listen to it.