Wild Bill Moore

Complete, Vol. 1: 1945-1948

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Tenor saxophonist Wild Bill Moore was one of the premier bar-walking, foot-stomping, honking-est players to strut the scene from his native Detroit to Los Angeles and back. His time after Louis Jordan and Jack McVea, and above Earl Bostic, set the pace for many a gutbucket player from Texas to follow in his footsteps during the '50s. He wasn't the first, but may have been the best of them all for his time. This first of two volumes of his sides from 1945-1948 has him involved in straight loose bop-tinged jazz, jump blues, boogie-woogie, and an occasional novelty tune produced for the Apollo, Bop, Savoy, and Modern labels. Moore also wrote the bulk of these tunes. The L.A. sessions from 1945 and 1948 feature bands with either trumpeter Teddy Buckner or pianist Milt Buckner, but not together. Highlights include the still relevant "Homecoming Blues," sporting the lyric "I just got back from fighting overseas" sung by Duke Henderson; the more carefree Louis Jordan-esque "Dubble Bubble"; and "Bright Light Blues." Controversy surrounds "Rock and Roll," perhaps the first reference to this as a genre but credited to Scatman Crothers as vocalist, although it is suggested by the liner notes writers that Moore is doing the actual singing. An anomaly is the final selection, "Primavera," where disjointed, near wacky Latin, R&B, and swing rhythms clash and fight for supremacy, urged on by a big ol' yahoo. The 1947 recordings are marred by bad sound, but include a jam of "Perdido" called "Wild Bill" and the standard "What Is This Thing Called Love?," featuring the outstanding piano playing of West Coast cool jazz cat Russ Freeman. The most precious music on this collection consists of the recordings done in Detroit, also circa 1947. They include Moore hits like the good-swinging "Bubbles" and boogie-oriented "We're Gonna Rock," fun tunes like the tango-ish "Bongo Bounce," the hard bopper "Rocking with Leroy," and the more seriously driven "Swingin' for Pappy." Baritone saxophonist Paul Williams is a perfect foil for Moore, and should get due credit for being as formidable as the leader. Moore also shows a softer side on the cool bluesy Gene Ammons-styled "Top and Bottom" and the nearly sedate "South Parkway Hop." Famous Detroit bandleader T.J. Fowler is also heard prominently on piano. Sidebar activity as a light heavyweight prizefighter, a stint in the Army, and numerous jazz gigs kept Moore busy for a long while, but it is still puzzling why his name is not mentioned more often as a forefather of demonstrative sax playing. Perhaps this, and a second volume of complete recordings, will right that wrong.

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