Phil Moore (jazz musician)

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Phil Moore and John O. Levy, c. 1947

Phil Moore (February 20, 1918 – May 13, 1987) was an American jazz pianist, orchestral arranger, band leader, and recording artist.


Moore was orphaned and placed in a county hospital in Portland, Oregon. He attended the Cornish School and the University of Washington in Seattle. When Moore was 13, he played piano at speakeasies[1] and small venues in Portland.[2]

Later, he supported Lena Horne, Frank Sinatra,[3] Bobby Short, Marshal Royal, Irving Ashby,[4] Julie Wilson, Gene Sedric,[5] Les Hite, and Helen Gallagher.[6] He arranged big-band music for the Tommy Dorsey and Harry James orchestras.[7]

In 1946, he played the role of a band leader in a short B movie, Stars on Parade.[8] About this time, his relationship with Dorothy Dandridge helped bring her success in a nightclub singing career.[9] Moore served as vocal coach for other performers in Hollywood, including Marilyn Monroe.[10]

Phil Moore worked at MGM and Paramount studios as an arranger. He worked on scores for over 30 films, although rarely receiving screen credit, presumably due to his race.[citation needed] These included Ziegfeld Girl, Dumbo, Three Cheers for the Boys, Panama Hattie, Presenting Lily Mars, Cabin in the Sky, the 1944 production of Kismet, and This Gun for Hire.[11]

During the late 1940s, Moore toured with his group, the Phil Moore Four: Milt Hinton (bass guitar), Marty Wilson (drums), Johnny Letman (trumpet), and Jimmy Lyons (saxophone? guitar?). He recorded for RCA Victor [w/Doles Dickens (bass guitar), Walter Bishop (drums), Edward Leroy Gibbs (guitar), and Remo Palmieri (electric guitar)], Musicraft [w/Doles Dickens or John Levy (bass guitar), Walter Bishop (drums), unknown (guitar), and Johnny Letman (trumpet)], and Black & White Records [w/Billy Hadnott (bass guitar), Lee Young (drums), and Irving Ashby (electric guitar)] during this time. From the late 1950s until his death, he was active in teaching singing and stagecraft, and gained a wide reputation in the grooming and coaching of aspiring black and white singers; he started a school in New York named "For Singers Only".[12]

In 1953, he recorded two bebop Christmas songs for RCA Victor — "Blink Before Christmas" and "Chinchy Old Scrooge".[13] Created in the heyday of the "beat" era, these songs were thick with 1950s hipster slang, in the style of jazz-based pre-rap songs. This recording has become a rare collector's item.[14]


As leader[edit]

  • Dance And Dream With Phil Moore At The Piano, Volume 1 (Black & White #A-66, 1946) -note: this is a 78rpm 4-disc album set.
  • Eventide: Phil Moore Orchestra (Discovery #DL-3005, 1949) -note: 10" LP.
  • Reminiscing: Phil Moore At The Piano (Discovery #DL-3006, 1949) -note: 10" LP.
  • Music For Moderns (Clef #MGC-635, recorded 1947, released 195?)[15]
  • Fantasy For Girl And Orchestra (Verve #MGV-2005, recorded 1947, released 1956)[16]
  • Portrait Of Leda [w/Leda Annest] (Columbia #WL-114, 1958)
  • Polynesian Paradise (Strand #SLS-1004, 1959)
  • Moore's Tour: An American In England (MGM #E-3752, 1959)
  • New York Sweet (Mercury #SR-60763, 1963)[17]

As sideman[edit]

With Gil Fuller


  1. ^ Bright Boulevards, Bold Dreams: The Story of Black Hollywood by Donald Bogle (Random House, Inc., 2009) chapter: Phil Moore: The Man Who Made Music, pg 88
  2. ^ Only The Strong Survive: Memoirs of a Soul Survivor/ Jerry Butler & Earl Smith Indiana University Press, 2000, pp. 87–88
  3. ^ Luiz Carlos do Nascimento Silva. Put Your Dreams Away: A Frank Sinatra Discography (Greenwood Publishing Group, 2000) pg 164
  4. ^ Marshal Royal: Jazz Survivor by Marshall Royal and Claire Gordon, (Continuum International Publishing Group, 2001) pg 83
  5. ^ John Chilton, Who's Who of Jazz: Storyville to Swing Street, pg 296
  6. ^ The Biographical Encyclopedia of Jazz, Leonard Feather, page 573
  7. ^ Obituary [1], The New York Times, May 19, 1987.
  8. ^ American Film Institute Catalog by Alan Gevinson (University of California Press, 1997) pg 1341
  9. ^ Everything and Nothing: The Dorothy Dandridge Tragedy by Dorothy Dandridge and Earl Conrad, (Harper Collins 2000) pg 83-85
  10. ^ Dorothy Dandridge: A Biography by Donald Bogle, (Amistad 1999)
  11. ^ Bright Boulevards, Bold Dreams: The Story of Black Hollywood By Donald Bogle (Random House, Inc., 2009) pg 113
  12. ^ Ebony Magazine, November 1960, pg 120–123
  13. ^ Billboard Magazine, Nov 28, 1953, pg 37
  14. ^
  15. ^ Togashi, Nobuaki; Matsubayashi, Kohji; Hatta, Masayuki. "Clef Records Catalog 600 series". Retrieved 2012-08-04. 
  16. ^ Togashi, Nobuaki; Matsubayashi, Kohji; Hatta, Masayuki. "Verve Records Catalog Popular 2000 series". Retrieved 2012-08-04. 
  17. ^ Togashi, Nobuaki; Matsubayashi, Kohji; Hatta, Masayuki. "Mercury Records Catalog 20700/60700 series". Retrieved 2012-08-04. 

External links[edit]