Oscar Moore (left) with Nat King Cole and Wesley Prince, c. June 1946
Photo: William P. Gottlieb
|Birth name||Oscar Frederic Moore|
|Born||December 25, 1916|
Austin, Texas, U.S.
|Died||October 8, 1981 (aged 64)|
|Associated acts||Nat King Cole, Johnny Moore's Three Blazers|
Oscar Frederic Moore (December 25, 1916 – October 8, 1981) was an American jazz guitarist known for his ten years with the King Cole Trio, a working jazz ensemble that included pianist and singer Nat King Cole.
Moore was born in Austin, Texas, the son of a blacksmith and his wife. By the time of the 1930 United States Census, the Moore family had moved to Phoenix, Arizona where Oscar eventually began performing with his older brother Johnny, who played both trombone and guitar. The younger Moore relocated to Los Angeles, California by mid-1936. In September of the following year, he participated in his first recording session as part of the Jones Boys Sing Band for Decca Records, led and arranged by Leon René. The group attracted some local attention via radio spots and two short films for MGM directed by Buster Keaton. Sometime the same month that Oscar first recorded with the Jones Boys, he accompanied pianist and vocalist Nat King Cole in an extended engagement at Bob Lewis’s Swanee Inn, North La Brea, Hollywood. He would end up spending ten years with Cole in the piano-guitar-bass trio format that influenced Art Tatum, Oscar Peterson, Ahmad Jamal, and countless cocktail combos throughout the jazz world. Initially the group was collective unit, but the group was re-structured after experiencing chart success with Capitol Records in the mid-1940s. This change in how the group was managed, as well as life on the road contributed to Moore's eventual departure from the musical organization, as he intimated to journalist John Tynan ten years after her left the group.
In addition to the commercial success enjoyed by the Trio, Moore was singled out for praise during the group's heyday. He placed or topped polls in Downbeat, Metronome, and Esquire magazines from 1943 through 1948. Even pianist Art Tatum professed his admiration for Moore in a 1944 magazine interview.
After he left the King Cole Trio in October 1947, he joined his brother in Johnny Moore's Three Blazers as a featured member of that group into the early 1950s. Oscar formed his own working trio in 1952 and was active around the Los Angeles area. He recorded sessions both under his own leadership and as a sideman throughout the 1950s, but his career as a performer and recording artist ended abruptly at the decade's conclusion at which time he left the music industry. He returned to the recording studio in 1965 to record a tribute to the then recently-deceased Cole and again resurfaced in the 1970s briefly backing Helen Humes. Moore died of a heart attack in Clark, Nevada, in 1981.
- Oscar Moore (Skylark, 1954)
- Swing Guitars with Barney Kessel, Tal Farlow (Norgran, 1955)
- Oscar Moore Quartet (Tampa, 1955)
- The Oscar Moore Trio (London, UK-only, 1955)
- Jazz 1940 Era (Tampa, 1956)
- Presenting Oscar Moore (Omegatape, 1956)
- Galivantin' Guitar (Tampa, 1956)
- In Guitar (Charlie Parker, 1962)
- We'll Remember You, Too (Surrey, 1966)
- Rossi, Nick (2019). Hittin’ The Ramp: The Early Years (1936-1943) (CD). Los Angeles: Resonance Records.