Suffice to say, Stanton Moore has a lot on his plate. In addition to his personal projects, in the fields of studio work and TV and as a teacher, he’s the drummer for the band Galactic and still manages to find time to record and tour with David Torkanowsky and James Singleton.
The trio had a new album ready to record but, a few days before they were due to enter the studio, Allen Toussaint, the influential New Orleans musician, passed away. Upon hearing the news, the trio shelved the material they had prepared and set to work arranging pieces from Toussaint’s repertoire. From here, With You in Mind was born. The album serves as both an homage to Toussaint and a reflection of the changing New Orlean music scene, against which Toussaint’s career was mapped out.
The album manages to reconcile singles of diverse genres, effortlessly putting jazz and funk tracks side-by-side in a manner which is natural to free-flowing New Orleans music. However, a unifying element is the cast of stellar New Orleans musicians, particularly vocalists, who are featured in the album and who, in this way, pay their respects to the late master. For example, jazz musicians Nicholas Payton and Donald Harrison appear on two instrumentals: Java (originally from Toussaint’s first solo album) and Riverboat. Elsewhere on the album. Jolynda Kiki Chapman offers a stand-out performance with her rendition of 1962 ballad All These Things.
Singer Cyril Neville features prominently on the album, singing three songs and appearing on a spoken word piece. Notably, he opens the album with a rousing rendition of Here Comes the Girls (which you may or may not recognize from a Boots campaign a couple of years ago). In a somewhat more experimental vein, he also performs The Beat a previously unrecorded spoken word poem which formed part of Toussaint’s personal writings.
The closing song Southern Nights is more experimental still, taking a well-known song from Toussaint’s career and reimagining it completely. Rather than the familiar sung version, the track opens with drums and spoken lyrics, before shifting into funky organ riffs.
As with all remakes of classic originals, With You In Mind can only go so far. While it doesn’t reach the heights of its source material, the functions as a means of appreciating Toussaint’s body of work in a new light.
With You In Mind is released on 21st July 2017 via Cool Green Recordings.