Stanton Moore is one of my drumming heroes, primarily because his mixture of funk chops and rock bombast aligns perfectly with my own drumming ideals. Of course, he pulls it off much, MUCH better than I typically do. In the past I have photographed Stanton in clinic and with his electrifying band Galactic, but until recently I have never seen him live with Garage a Trois–the blazing space jazz band he anchors. So when the band’s publicist mentioned that they were coming through town on one of my rare nights off I jumped at the chance to shoot the show.
For the uninitiated, GAT is a quartet featuring Moore on drums, Mike Dillon on vibraphone and percussion, Marco Benevento on keys, and Skerik (trust me, he only needs one name) on tenor sax. From that description you might surmise that this is some straight-ahead jazz group but you’d be way off the mark. Dillon and Skerik played together in the 90’s acid-funk group Critters Buggin and bring that same sense of irreverent musical adventure to GAT. Both play traditional jazz instruments but they each play through an array of effects pedals that places an expansive sonic palette at their fingertips.
The show was intense, to say the least. Dillon had some trouble with his rig at the outset, but just as he looked ready to smash it into pieces it started working and he vented by absolutely wailing on his vibes during the first tune. He closed the number with a wry smile and the band never pulled back from that “kill em all” attitude the entire night. The interplay between the four members is amazing to watch, and you get the sense that they will fearlessly follow each other anywhere in the music. It’s like watching a team of firefighters work: no matter what crazy situation one of them might find themselves in, the rest of the team will go after them and bring them home with nary a scratch.
While this was my first time shooting at the art gallery/venue that is 2720 Cherokee, I have to admit that it was a perfect setting for the band’s trippy jams. The room is adorned with all sorts of art, both “found” and otherwise and under lights (and fog) the effect is surreal. As an added bonus, I was able to shoot from behind the stage (an Stanton) for some unique perspectives. My only gripe is that the lighting was a bit dim, but what music photographer doesn’t whine about that?