Whistlin’ Alex Moore (1929-1951) – Full Album
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Whistlin Alex Moore
Complete Recorded Works (1929 1951)
Featuring the recordings of:
Whistlin’ Alex Moore, vocal / piano / whistling on 3, 4. 20 Nick Nichols, vocal; accompanied by Alex Moore, piano; possibly Blind Norris, guitar Whistlin’ Alex Moore, vocal / piano; probably Blind Norris, guitar. Perry Dixon, vocal; accompanied probably by Alex Moore, piano; possibly Coley Jones, guitar. Blind Norris, vocal; accompanied by Alex Moore, piano / train effects; Andrew Hogg, guitar on 13. Alex Moore, vocal / piano; accompanied probably by Andrew Hogg or Blind Norris, guitar; unknown, vocal bass, or possibly own vocal effects. Alex Moore, vocal / piano; accompanied possibly by Andrew “Smokey” Hogg, guitar; unknown, drums.
Genres: Blues, Country Blues, Texas Blues, Dallas Blues, Piano Blues, Barrelhouse Blues, Blues Guitar, Country Blues Guitar, Jazz Piano, Jazz, Boogie-Woogie
Abridged from this albums original booklet notes. “Whistlin”‘Alex Moore‘s recordings, made before 1960, are a chronicle of both change and growth. Born in Dallas, Texas, he remained there nearly all his life though his music would eventually take him to Europe. His first memory of playing the piano went back to 1911, when his father died and he was forced to quit school and work as a delivery boy for a local grocery store. He worked locally through the 1920s solo and in league with numerous other blues singers. By the time of his first recordings, he had been playing music for almost fifteen years. The style he played then was a relaxed synthesis of folk and commercial blues, stride piano and more than a touch of jazz. He admired Ida Cox‘s and Victoria Spivey‘s records and remembered when Mamie Smith and her Jazz Hounds came through Dallas. Moore’s jazzy side is especially felt in the accompaniments to Nick Nichols in 1929. He was a careful player – not at all virtuosic – whose appeal (like Leroy Carr‘s) lay mostly in the grace and thoughtfulness of his lyrics.
Hatred is self-punishment; forgiveness is better than revenge. (x2) Ignoring fine love – all to lose and none to win.
From “Heart Wrecked Blues”.
By 1937 there is an audible change in the style of Whistlin’ Alex Moore. The stride and jazz elements are considerably suppressed in favour of a more relentless left-hand and more deeply blue figuration in the right. His poetic talent seems deeper and more varied; Consider the four contrasting treatments of love sung over the same piano music which he recorded back to back on the 18th of February – Blue Bloomer through Hard Hearted Woman. Then, after the mid-1940s, Moore, like many others, was heavily influenced by the playing of Pete Johnson, Albert Ammons and even Freddie Slack. Moore became increasingly eclectic as he matured. Blues and “boogie woogie” became more or less inseparable for him as his style kept expanding to absorb new post-war influences. However hard he may have worked as a youth to keep up with current styles, by 1960 (when he was recorded for Arhoolie by Christ Strachwitz and Paul Oliver) he had long since become an expert and spontaneous pianist as well as a free-associating poet. “I just sit down, sing and play them (blues), unaware to any knowledge or ideas or thoughts of them until I sit down at the keyboard and begin playing and making them up on the piano”. Moore described himself at this time as “sober, lonesome, hard-headed but good-natured.” In 1970 (a letter to Lars Bergstrom) he claimed that he didn’t “know any music”; that he never practiced; and that he didn’t know where his songs came from. “Music is just a natural part of me and my life and I love to do it.” Moore first recorded in December of 1929 when a Columbia recording team was visiting Dallas. “These talent scouts for these companies were in and out of Dallas every 15 to 30 days. You can’t imagine how they were, savaging up songs for recordings”. In two days, Moore made twelve recordings, six of them under his own name and the others as accompanist to Nick Nichols and Perry Dixon. Musically speaking, Whistlin’ Alex Moore actually played only four discernibly different blues, plus a Frankie And Johnny on these sides. The first of them can be heard in They May Not Be My Toes and West Texas Woman which were recorded back to back and released together on the same disc. Musically, they are the same in all important respects. They share the same key, chord progression, rhythmic feel and characteristic introduction. The presentation of these sides in recording order makes it easy, not only to hear the other pairings, but to imagine the changing moods and atmosphere of the session. It’s as close to being there as we’ll get.Bill Westcott Copyright 1993 & 2008 Document Records