Jazz Professional               

Brew Moore


Long after they die the majority of jazzmen are still remembered. Mention the names of Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Sidney Bechet, Duke Ellington, Lester Young, Benny Goodman, Stan Kenton to the man in the street and he will more than likely reply "Jazzmen weren't they?" But ask the average jazz lover, "Who was Brew Moore?" and you'll probably receive a blank stare.
One can hardly blame them, because Moore was unknown to the majority of jazz buffs, due to the fact that very little of his work has been re-issued. If one were prepared to travel the length and breadth of the country it might be possible to track down a few of his recordings, but one would certainly have to search exclusively at the jazz specialist record shops.
Brew Moore was probably more heavily influenced by Lester Young than any other tenor saxophonist. Stan Getz, Zoot Sims, Al Cohn, Herbie Steward, Bill Perkins and many others may have begun their careers by emulating Lester Young, but went on to develop their own styles later on. This does not mean that Brew intentionally copied Young but just felt comfortable and at ease with that particular sound.
Moore never became a member of Woody Herman's 'Four Brothers' sax section, as did Stan Getz, Zoot Sims, Herbie Steward, Al Cohn and baritone saxophonist Serge Chaloff. One can only assume that there was never a vacancy at the appropriate moment, or perhaps he didn't want the job, feeling insecure or trapped when touring with a big band for any length of time. Big Bands were not Moore's forte although he was with the Claude Thornhill band for approximately six months and also recorded with Machitos Afro-Cubists. He felt happier in small band surroundings or leading his own quartet.
Perhaps one should begin with the conception of the boy from the small southern town of Indianola, Mississippi, where Milton Aubrey Moore was born on March 26th 1924. When he was seven years old his mother gave him a harmonica for his birthday. He soon taught himself to play the popular tunes of the day and by the time he was eleven he was a member of the local junior high school band.
At the age of eighteen he spent a very short time at Mississippi University, leaving after only a few months. He now possessed a secondhand tenor saxophone, arrived in New Orleans with only three dollars, and quickly found his first professional engagement with Fred Ford's Dixielanders.
Moving from the south to New York in 1943, Moore formed his own quartet which was to be his favourite format during the coming years. As already mentioned, Brew played briefly with the big band of Claude Thornhill, who, like Woody Herman, was delving into the be-bop cult during the mid-forties.
Brew Moore was a regular participant at the Roost and Bop City where he played with trombonist Kai Winding's sextet, which spotlighted Gerry Mulligan on baritone sax, and cut several recordings: Crossing the Channel, Sleepy Bop, Broadway and Waterworks. The first two numbers were issued on American Roost, the last one on the New Jazz label. Moore also recorded with a sextet led by the trumpet player, Howard McGee, that also featured J.J. Johnson on trombone. Apart from the standard I'll Remember April the numbers recorded were mostly originals. Fuguetta, Fluid Drive Donellon Square, Meciendo, and Lo Flame were all originally recorded on the Blue Note label.
Moore did eventually record with the Four Brothers team, Getz, Sims and Al Cohn, plus another 'Lester' man, Allen Eager. The title of the album was Battleground. It gives one an insight as to how these tenor saxophone players related to each other musically. They were entirely compatible.
Whenever Charlie Parker came to town, Brew Moore was always happy when invited to sit in on his jam sessions. Everything seemed to be happening around the clubs in Greenwich Village, New York, in the 50's. Moore's was always a familiar face, when playing with the jazz greats or featuring himself with a quartet.
When the modem jazz scene faded for a while during the mid-fifties in New York, Brew managed to get a lift in an old Buick with country and western men, Billy Faier, Jack Elliott and Woody Guthrie. They stopped off in Texas to buy some hamburgers and alcohol. After the meal, Faier suggested that Brew should play something with them. Moore did not care for country music. He remarked, "I don't play in your style, it wouldn't mix." Billy said, "We'll play some blues." After he heard Moore's version of the blues Guthrie refused to have anything else to do with him, so Moore left to catch the bus to San Francisco.
The atmosphere of San Francisco appealed to him, both musically and socially. He made many appearances at the famous Black Hawk, a favourite nightspot with the jazz people. On some occasions, Moore played with a Dixieland band led by Bob Meilke's Bearcats, which of course wasn't his milieu, but as he pointed out to a journalist, "I go where the work is."
In 1959, through overwork and alcoholism, Moore became seriously ill, but quickly recovered and resumed work to play on a Matson steamer heading for the Far East. Shortly after he toured this exotic part of the world.
It was now drawing close to 1961 and numerous top jazz musicians were leaving the States for Scandinavia and Europe. Sidney Bechet, Colman Hawkins, Benny Carter, Bud Powell, Kenny Clark, Oscar Pettiford, Teddy Wilson, Stan Getz, all found the Europeans very receptive to jazz generally.
Moore found no difficulty in obtaining work in Sweden and Denmark and alternated between the two countries. He surrounded himself with the best musicians in Scandinavia and with the many Americans who had taken up residency there.
He recorded a fine session in Denmark in 1962, with a line-up that consisted of himself on tenor, Sahib Shibab alto saxophone, Lars Gullin baritone sax, Louis Hjuland, vibes, Ben Axen piano, Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen bass and William Schiopffe, drums.
After a few years Moore took the opportunity to go further south, to the Canaries, where it was certainly much warmer and less expensive than living in Scandinavia. He returned in 1970 to Sweden and formed a fine quartet, consisting of himself on tenor sax, Lam Sjostens, piano, Sture Norden bass and Frank Noren drums.
The album was released on Sonet records, catalogue number SNJF624. It features a wide selection of material. The up-tempo of Lars Sjosten's "Kong" (yes, not 'King') Fredrik's Blues is a medium to fast tempo number, the same applies to Bait, composed by the late Tony Fruscella. On the album is Stockholm Dews, the last number to be heard and composed by Brew.
Moore was once again invited back to Denmark and after a successful gig in Copenhagen on March 19th 1973, fell down a flight of stairs. He died in the ambulance on the way to hospital. He was just one week short of his forty-ninth birthday.