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Phil Moore

born on 20/2/1918 in Portland, OR, United States

died on 13/5/1987 in Los Angeles, CA, United States

Phil Moore (jazz musician)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

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


Phil 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-grade film, 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. 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 (Marty Wilson, Jimmy Lyons, Milt Hinton, and Johnny Letman). 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 lingo, in the style of jazz-based pre–rap songs. This recording has become a rare collector's item.[14]


Moore's recordings include:

  • Eventide (Discovery DL 3005, 1949)
  • Music for Moderns (Clef MGC 635, recorded 1947, released early 1950s)[15]
  • Fantasy for Girl and Orchestra (Verve MGV 2005, recorded 1947, released 1956)[16]
  • New York Sweet (Mercury SR 60763)[17]
  • Portrait of Leda (Columbia LP, 1958)
  • Polynesian Paradise (Strand SLS 1004, 1959)
  • Moore's Tour: An American in England (MGM E3752, 1959)

As sideman

With Gil Fuller

  • Gil Fuller & the Monterey Jazz Festival Orchestra featuring Dizzy Gillespie (Pacific Jazz, 1965)


  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. pg 8788
  3. Put Your Dreams Away: A Frank Sinatra Discography, by Luiz Carlos do Nascimento Silva (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. Who's who of jazz: Storyville to Swing Street, by John Chilton 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 120123
  13. Billboard Magazine, Nov 28, 1953, pg 37
  15. Togashi, Nobuaki; Matsubayashi, Kohji; Hatta, Masayuki. Clef Records Catalog 600 series. Retrieved on 2012-08-04.
  16. Togashi, Nobuaki; Matsubayashi, Kohji; Hatta, Masayuki. Verve Records Catalog Popular 2000 series. Retrieved on 2012-08-04.
  17. Togashi, Nobuaki; Matsubayashi, Kohji; Hatta, Masayuki. Mercury Records Catalog 20700/60700 series. Retrieved on 2012-08-04.

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