Riverfront Times

Maurice

PHOTO BY PETER Z JONES

Maurice "Mo E" Egeston, left, with his All-Stars.

As much as anyone, Maurice "Mo E" Egeston had an active role in creating the music culture of Washington Avenue in the mid to late 1990s and early aughts. At the time, the club scene there was a rich mix — not perfect, of course, but possessing both live music and DJ cultures, with a clientele that crossed a lot of demographic lines. For a handful of years, on a handful of blocks, something special was happening on Wash Ave, with Egeston often onstage, working behind the scenes or simply part of the audience.

These days, it's a different musical community downtown, but Egeston's still in the mix, though his view is largely that of a resident, not a performer. Living on the top floor of a converted warehouse, Egeston says that as he walks around the corner for his daily coffee, he thinks, "Oh, that club used to be there. And that other club was here." The flipside of nostalgia? "Moments when you can't remember what was where."

At different points in time, Egeston was active in Urban Jazz Naturals, Vargas Swing, its offshoot Vargas, Invincible Groov ("with no 'e,' because the '90s"), Soul Alliance, Coco & Mo, Brothers Lazaroff and his long-running partnership with horn player Dawn Weber — "Mo & Dawn, a working duo that played lounges and restaurants and continued with what we were doing with Vargas and Urban Jazz Naturals."

He recalls that time fondly.

"That era is what really sucked me into electronic music, in general," he says. "This was before you saw VIP lines and valets on Washington Avenue. There was kind of a crew, like what's on Cherokee now, just playing a different kind of music. It felt like a community for sure, and definitely felt like the coolest thing in town. At least we thought so.

"It was a DJ-driven thing, but at the same time, you had bands like Zhivegas, Son of Starchild, Sky Bop Fly... these six- to eight-piece bands that were making money and able to stay together and tour by playing live music. DJ culture was big, but support for live music was there. Besides the raw fun of it, it was just a community of kinda kooky people, many of whom have remained my friends. Crazy to think that was more than twenty years ago, maybe more."

PHOTO BY PETER Z JONES
"This is a nice blueprint of what we can do," Egeston says of the CD.

Throughout the years, Egeston's been able to incorporate gigs played for cash with others that have a bit more of his heart and soul invested; he also maintains an active teaching schedule, with exactly 41 students at last count, including both kids and adults.

These days, Egeston's finding his creative outlet as an instrumentalist and bandleader, offering up a new CD by his group the Mo E All-Stars, which features the eponymous leader on keys and composition, Duane "Jingo" Williams on percussion, Eric "Snoopy" Tyler on bass and the ever-in-demand Grover Stewart Jr. behind the kit. Along with the contributions of producer/recording engineer Jason McEntire, the band is releasing Groove Suites Vol. 1, an eight-song, all-instrumental album that Egeston suggests was a long time coming.

"So I've been writing since Urban Jazz Naturals," he says. "Writing, rearranging, taking other people's ideas and remixing. I was somewhat burned out, because I came from a time when we were still making physical products and moved into a time when the industry was transitioning away from physical products. A lot of writing came when I was playing at the Delmar; I just never got over that hump of putting my own stuff out, but knew I had to get an album out at some point. When Snoopy arrived, it really balanced things out and I started thinking seriously about getting things ready to record. And it felt really good to get it down."

Egeston has a hard time defining the album without "lots of words." He says, "It's basically soulful, jazz-influenced. Some funk and Latin in there. The underlying thing is the different dance grooves, with jazz, funk and soul mixed in with old-school house, drum and bass, down-tempo beats."

After initially laying down a marathon live session on November 16, Egeston returned to Sawhorse Studios on an as-needed basis, while also laying down tracks at his loft. In time, McEntire signed on to mix and master as well as record, a process that Egeston says was perfect: "Our dynamics are best captured live, but a live recording at a show fell apart, so we wanted to capture something as close as possible to that. We burned through all the tracks in one day. After that, I played Rhodes and top-board synths and overdubbed a lot of my stuff. I always made demos work for various things, created beats. Doing work in the 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. range has traditionally been my strength, so I'd record bits late at night and send them his way. It was nice, having the flexibility to do both."

The process made him think that the next album could come a lot sooner, featuring much of the same personnel.

"I do, I do," he says, when asked if thinks there's another album on the horizon. "This is a nice blueprint of we can do; it really showcases the players. Yeah, it's been a process, but I'm definitely pleased and it's put me back into a place of wanting to keep writing."

On (almost) every Saturday, Egeston hosts "Late Night Grooves" at Grand Center's Dark Room, a place that allows him to workshop material constantly. He's also wants to incorporate some new, young voices into his projects going forward, as well as working with his generational compadres.

"Paige Alyssa will be on the release gig," he says. "Charlie Cerpa will be playing with us in a couple of weeks. I want to keep those sorts of things in mind. It's not just about wanting to work with twentysomethings. But when we work on something original or even with songs that we're covering or reinterpreting, they'll pull on things from my own youth that I've put aside; it makes me remember that that music was actually really good.

"With the next project, we'll have some vocalists as guests, and I want to interact with some young folks, for sure; I don't pretend like I'm young any more. I definitely appreciate what's going on today and want some nice creativity to go on with the younger set."

St. Louis Post Dispatch/Go

Mo Egeston hits all the notes in busy life

Fans need a scorecard to keep up with St. Louis musician Mo Egeston these days.

 

Pianist/producer Egeston, who floats musically between different genres, can be heard in his groups .... Soul Alliance, and the Mo E (All-Stars &) Trio, and he also plays in the bands Brothers Lazaroff 

“It’s chaos,” local MVP Egeston says of his many affiliations, which exist partly out of necessity after leaving his job teaching music appreciation at McKendree College (now University) about five years ago.

“Since walking away, I’ve had to do different things to keep food on the table.”

Also, he says, he likes “working with people who are stylistically open, and have no attitudes, no extra layers of drama. That allows me to keep it together.”

“I’m running beats through machines and creating DJ effects, and there’s elements of jazz, soul, electronica, and Latin flavor, with house as the main driving sound,” says Egeston (about his Mo E projects).

Soul Alliance pairs him up with R&B singer Coco Soul, and came about after his agent at Talent Plus suggested he start a new outfit that could play everything from the casino circuit to corporate gigs and special events.

“What we’re trying to do is encompass the whole world of dance, with club classics. But we’re (also) adding more rock to our sound,” he says.

His Mo E Trio lets him do jazz, soul, house, ambient and more within the context of a small trio. As keyboardist for the Brothers Lazaroff, he dabbles in Americana music including roots, reggae, and folk.

All this juggling is nothing new for Egeston, who started his music career locally in 1995 when his Invincible Groov worked as the house band at the Green Room nightclub. He describes Invincible Groov as a party band who could “take Hendrix and put it to a funk groove.”

After the club decided to go in different directions musically, Egeston became part of the original lineup of the popular Vargas Swing. “We were fortunate enough to do an album and get out on the road,” he says of the original lineup that would last until 1999, when members began dropping off.

“People in the band were getting a lot of calls because they were great,” he says.

Egeston continued the Vargas brand with Dawn Weber (and continued later with) Urban Jazz Naturals, which allowed them to dig deeper into their love of club music. Mo & Dawn became a catch-all for all they were doing.

Egeston, who teaches private lessons at his Egeston Piano Studio, started off as a classical player but says “the electronica world has been the most influential on my personal style. Every day I’m discovering something, and I’m a student of whatever situation I happen to be in.”

Mo Egeston, Sundays at Lola.

Get more information at www.moegeston.com and www.welovelola.com.

Riverfront Times- St. Louis

Brothers Lazaroff

Give 'Em What They Need
(self-released)

Give 'Em What They Need is the third record by Brothers Lazaroff, and with each release Jeff and David Lazaroff add more soul and more brave experimentation to their rootsy music. Credit the Brothers' instrumentalists — bassist Teddy Brookins, drummer Grover Stewart and keyboardist Mo Egeston — who make their recording debut on this album. Each musician brings a malleable but distinct flavor to the group, especially Egeston. A long-time vet of this city's funk and electro scenes, he adds immense color and texture to these songs, often in unexpected places. His churning Hammond organ chops are fairly straight-forward on the twangy, rambling "Run with the Horses," but the light, airy analog synth line that hovers overhead adds the right amount of spacey ambiance. Later, on "Feels So Nice," his harmonic intervals on the Wurlitzer electric piano gently punctuate the loping rhythm and meditative vocals.

 

KDHX.org

Brothers Lazaroff ... Jeff and David Lazaroff are the songwriting and harmonizing brothers of the band, but a crack rhythm section of drummer Grover Stewart and bassist Teddy Brookins, as well as virtuoso keyboards by Mo Egeston, expand the sound beyond just twangy roots.

Riverfront Times Blog

Brothers Lazaroff broke the tension with a short but stellar set that began with gorgeous vocal harmonies on "Watch Me Fall" before sliding into an Uncle Tupelo-friendly take on "I Wanna Be Your Dog." More polished than the Stooges' original and the UT cover, the song didn't lack the raw sexuality of its predecessors. Mo Egeston's understated, slinky keyboards added a smidge of funk, making the song theirs.

The brothers and company took a break from their instruments to open the Carter Family's "No Depression" a cappella, and motioned for the audience to join them in song. For the first time all night, the sold-out crowd quieted, then joined the band in what morphed into a spiritual ceremony of voices, anchored with the organ and stomps of a country church. Leaving a world of toil and trouble for a place of light and joy, be it heaven or a music venue where a seminal local band played twenty years ago ... the Brothers Lazaroff escorted the crowd to that place where music brings people together and leaves them slack-jawed and emotionally spent.

Riverfront Times

...

This year, the brothers decided to bring it all back home to St. Louis (they grew up in Creve Coeur) and have put together one of the more striking, tight and steady bands in town, in keyboardist Mo Egeston, drummer Grover Stewart and bassist Teddy Brookins. The veterans of the funk, jazz, drum & bass, swing and world-music scenes in town had never played with singer-songwriters before, but they've radically altered the Lazaroffs' sound. The trio adds muscle to the rhythms, expands arrangements with funk and jazz, and grooves without ever descending into aimless jams — all while daring the brothers to jump out of their literate, open-ended songwriting skins.

The band was gathered via MySpace after the sessions for American Artifact, starting with Stewart. Brookins was cherry-picked from Stewart's friends list, and Egeston, whom the brothers first saw playing the keytar with Lamar Harris at the Delmar Restaurant & Lounge, came onboard last. "We're all from St. Louis," Jeff says. "And that gives us that thump, that driving, live sound. Our stuff can be done so rootsy, but we'd rather destroy it a little bit."

Private Event Client

Mo: Just a note of thanks for all you did to bring about a successful wedding/reception for my daughter, K. Your accompaniment with "Cookie" was great! Again, thank you again for your technical help, adaptability, wonderful music, and professionalism. I.F.

Riverfront Times

Brothers Lazaroff were the third St. Louis band of the afternoon, and they had the tightest rhythm section, playing a short, country rock set of originals and a Townes Van Zandt cover, "White Freightliner," to close out.

Private Event Client UG Project

Dear Mo, Thank you and your band for performing at our reception. Thank you so much for providing sound as well. We also want to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to rehearse with Robin. (solo vocalist) You all did a wonderful job. Thank you again, D and K

BPM Magazine

(UJN)

This 4-piece jazz/soul/house ensemble from St. Louis delivers one of the best tunes of the year...  All the lounges will be bobbin' to this one. Gonna be major!

Our Gang- Next Generation Players- for Egeston Piano Studio

Maurice, On behalf of the Our Gang Next Generation Players I would like to thank you for the accompaniment CD. It was a great help. Love and Prayers, Our Gang Next Generation Cast (P.M.)

URB Magazine

(UJN's "How Can I")...perfect for a nighttime, poolside soiree, even in the winter.

KDHX.org

 

Werewolves of St. Louis: Warren Zevon Tribute 10/23/2009

Brothers Lazaroff followed with “Dirty Life and Times” and then a biting and genuinely howling “Werewolves of London” and “Disorder in the House.” Keyboardist Mo Egeston brought the noise and drummer Grover Stewart the funk.