When you want to hear a jazz saxophonist who is abstract and highly cerebral, you listen to Ornette Coleman, Steve Lacy, Roscoe Mitchell, or Anthony Braxton. Those saxmen do not go out of their way to be accessible; they insist that you accept them on their own terms. But when you want to hear a jazz saxophonist who is bluesy, R&B-minded, and quite accessible, you listen to someone like Wild Bill Moore. Produced by Orrin Keepnews in 1961, Wild Bill's Beat is the essence of soul-jazz. This LP is a good example of why R&B and blues fans have an easy time getting into Moore; the type of earthy, down-home soulfulness that one gets from James Brown, Muddy Waters, or Lightnin' Hopkins is a big part of what the tenor saxman does on groove-oriented instrumentals like "Tearin' Out," "A Good 'Un," and the title track. Moore (who is well served by pianist Junior Mance, bassist Joe Benjamin, drummer Ben Riley, and percussionist Ray Barretto) isn't just playing for intellectuals in Sweden; on Wild Bill's Beat, he sees no reason why jazz cannot be party music. And in fact, the concept of jazz as party music was hardly a new idea in the early '60s -- back in the '30s and '40s, bandleaders like Count Basie, Jimmie Lunceford, and Lionel Hampton played their share of party music. But in the '50s and '60s, a lot of elitists promoted the idea that jazz had to be ultra-intellectual 100 percent of the time. And while highly intellectual jazz most certainly has its place, there is also room for jazz that is more accessible and easier to absorb. Obviously, Wild Bill's Beat falls into the latter category, and it's a record that will appeal to those who believe that jazz has a right to groove.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson