Brew Moore

The Kerouac Connection

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For starters, the title of this double-disc Brew Moore retrospective is misleading. The reason it is called The Kerouac Connection is simply that Moore's hard-swinging lyrical yet physical style was immortalized and highly celebrated in Jack Kerouac's 1965 novel Desolation Angels, which was actually written around the mid-'50s while waiting for the publication of On the Road. In the second of two very different sections of the book, the protagonist has come down from an extended period of solitude as a fire lookout on Desolation Peak. When he enters San Francisco to catch up with old friends, he is sitting in a bar and watching Moore and his band ripping it up on the bandstand, and the author goes on for a few pages about this encounter, which somehow became a euphoric drunken epiphany. That said, the music on this set is hardly a letdown or a come-on. In fact, it is perhaps the first real overview listeners have of Moore's career. There are 41 cuts recorded between 1948-1957 and arranged chronologically. These feature Moore as a sideman in groups led by Claude Thornhill, George Wallington, Machito, Slim Gaillard, Stan Getz, Miles Davis, Kai Winding, Howard McGhee, Charlie Parker, and Cal Tjader. In addition, there are numerous selections interspersed between these recordings that feature Moore as a leader. Of course, there are the expected selections such as "Four and One More" with Getz; "Godchild" with Thornhill; and "Howard's Blues," recorded with McGhee and Machito. But there are some real surprises here as well, including "Bernie's Tune," recorded for Canadian television in 1950 with a young Paul Bley on piano; the unreleased "Knockout" with Wallington; and four tracks with his own septet (featuring Gerry Mulligan, Winding, and Wallington), including "Lestorian Mode," "Goldrush," and "The Mud Bug." The U.K.'s Giant Steps (a division of Cherry Red) deserves tremendous credit for assembling this great set at such an attractive price.

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