Interview and story by J Hunter
Each year, hundreds of jazz groups scrabble round the world trying to get the first bit of attention that could lead to wider levels of discovery. I know, because all their CDs are scattered around my home office. What’s both sad and annoying is that only a few artists are brave enough to take the extra creative step that will separate them from the rest of the pack. That step could be as big as re-envisioning Ornette Coleman as a soul-jazz artist, or as little as trying to cover “On Green Dolphin Street” in some way not thought of by the last 50 bands who covered “On Green Dolphin Street.” In either case, a little thought can go a long way.
Happily, the Greater Nippertown jazz scene has more than a few players who have no problem thinking outside of the box, and the Arch Stanton Quartet is the latest example of that trend. While there’s plenty of hard bop and bebop in their ever-expanding catalog, the ASQ’s overall sound has a carbon-fiber core that lets them maintain the agility and flexibility of the 21st-century groups that have become darlings of the jam-band circuit. Using shorter words, they’re as nasty as they want to be without sacrificing the intelligence that makes their original compositions such a pleasure to listen to. And if we’re going to talk about separating yourself from the pack, how many groups are named after a minor (but important) character in “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” – the best Spaghetti Western ever made?
Area jazz fans were well aware of the vitality and creativity Terry Gordon could pump out long before he became part of the Stanton Quartet. But those same fans might not have been aware of Roger Noyes, whose fuzzed-up guitar shares space on the ASQ front line with Gordon’s arsenal of horns. That guitar brings a whip-snap sound to all the group’s tunes, even as it provides a real contrast to Gordon’s shining tone. As tough and ragged as the band can be, Gordon and Noyes have no problem taking it to the other extreme when the moment calls for it – which it does on “Estate,” the tender coda to the Stanton Quartet’s 2012 debut Along for the Ride. All these ingredients influenced Metroland readers to name the ASQ the Best Local Jazz Group for 2013.