Phil Moore

Pianist, arranger, composer, musical director and educator, working on films, musicals, and with numerous bands and artists.
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Artist Biography

b. 20 February 1918, Portland, Oregon, USA, d. 13 May 1987, Los Angeles, California, USA. Studying music from the age of four, Moore became an accomplished pianist and by the time that he graduated from the University of Washington in Seattle had decided upon a career in music. He played with several west coast bands including that led by Les Hite, but began to concentrate on arranging, later claiming in interviews that this decision was prompted by seeing and hearing the phenomenal playing of Art Tatum. Moore did, in fact, continue to play as both a solo act and as leader of a small band. Far from being intimidated by Tatum, in 1939 Moore was sufficiently self-confident to become largely responsible for the creation of the ‘block chord’ technique that was later modified and popularized by Milt Buckner and George Shearing. Moore had already appeared in at least one movie when, in the early 40s, he joined MGM’s staff and became a member of the studio’s orchestras. As leader of the Phil Moore Four, he appeared in some movies. Among his on-screen appearances were This Joint Is Jumpin’, an all black 1947 musical, A Song Is Born (1948), Double Dynamite (1951), in which he backed Frank Sinatra, and In Harm’s Way (1965).

Also in the 40s, some of his compositions were heard in movies, notably ‘Shoo Shoo Baby’, which was used in Beautiful But Broke, Follow The Boys, South Of Dixie (all 1944) and Big City (1948). The song was also used in the 1946 British film, A Matter Of Life And Death, to make a script point about the decline of American culture. Also in the 40s, Moore took time out from his duties in Hollywood to cross the country and briefly take up the post of musical director to Mildred Bailey who at that time had her own radio show on CBS in New York. Mostly, however, Moore worked in Hollywood, acting as accompanist and musical director, and sometimes as vocal coach, for several singers including Lena Horne and Dorothy Dandridge. He appeared on numerous record sessions for singers including Sinatra and Marilyn Monroe. Also in Hollywood, he was founder of the Singers Workshop. Linked with these activities, he made For Singers Only, an album of 78s designed to help purchasers learn how to sing like a movie star. In 1973 he was associate musical director for the television film, Duke Ellington: We Love You Madly. Moore also composed music in the classical form, including Symphony In Green, Fantasy For Girl And Orchestra and Polynesian Paradise, a piano concerto and a trombone concerto, all of which he recorded.