March 20, 2011

Phil-Moore---resized.jpg
Phil Moore - prolific, uncredited Film Composer


Back over to some Americana tonight. Phil Moore established his reputation in the music world as a Jazz musician, composer and arranger, working with many of the greats of the day. He was also a prolific film soundtrack composer, but most all of his work in that area went uncredited owing to the racial barriers of the day (Phil Moore was black). Rather than let that thwart his career, he flourished and branched out into a number of musical idioms, among them Classical, or in his case a melding of Classical and Jazz. One of the results was his concerto for Piano and Orchestra which he recorded for the Los Angeles label Discovery Records in October of 1947. The Orchestra consists of some of the biggest names in the L.A. session scene in the 1940's, including Gerald Wilson and Red Callender along with members of the MGM Studio orchestra and Calvin Jackson at the Piano.

Like most of the attempts at fusing Classical and Jazz, it never quite figures out what it wants to do and it probably could have used a couple more takes here and there (it was recorded during the dreaded October of 1947 just before the great Musicians Strike at the end of that month). But it's a glimpse into another place and time when a lot of contributions were being made to the cause of contemporary music and they were coming seemingly from everywhere. That they have become mostly forgotten now is rather sad because it does ignore a particularly innovative period of time in music and certainly in American music. Whether these attempts are viewed as successful or not isn't as important as that they happened at all and happened in an atmosphere of acceptance - and where the color line meant nothing and creativity had full reign.

It happened and that's a good thing.

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