Vintage Guitar - February 2018 - 58
His style is inextricably tied
to the small-combo format
of the Three Blazers, the
group he led throughout his
career. This was initially a
drummerless trio setting of
piano, guitar, and upright
bass in which the guitarist
took on a central role, and
therein lie most of his innovations and advances. Moore
provided rhythmic riffs that
mimicked horn-sect ion
parts and solid non-intrusive
rhythm-guitar chordal accompaniment that blended
with the piano. He supplied
single-note fills to ensemble
phrases and took center stage
in improvised lead solos.
His slurred chord-rhythm
figures similar to T-Bone's
signature moves, generally
confined to simple triads
and partial ninth-chord
sonorities or even dyads like
parallel sixths and thirds,
were staples of his style as
were the decorative bluesy
T-Bone melody lines woven
around the vocal phrases.
He possessed a larger jazzinformed chord vocabulary,
as evidenced by the slurred
whole-tone aug mented
Johnny's solo in "New Orleans Blues" embodfree use of stepwise and arpeggio lines. Of further
chords that open "Gloria"
ies a significant blues-guitar improvisation of the
importance is Johnny's recurring application of the
and melodic navigation
'40s L.A. school, teeming with personal traits.
sixth interval leap that appears in measures 2, 3,
through the song's changes,
Note the mannerisms like exaggerated slurs in
5, and most prominently in the deliberate slurred
but pared it down to address
the opening phrase - essentially the development
sixth figure that closes the excerpt. Variations
the harmonic simplicity of
of a decorative sliding trill on G, the ninth of F9,
have graced many blues-guitar moments and
the blues in most pieces.
and C, the ninth of B b9. Also notable is his use of
even crossed into the rock world - consider Robin
Moore's double stops as
mixed pentatonic and diatonic melody and the
Trower's application in "Too Rolling Stoned."
heard in "New Orleans
Blues" formed an inspiration for Chuck Berry's style while his wildly which boasts a wealth of technique and ideas numerous Johnny Moore mannerisms, physiexpressive exaggerated slurs on the same track, including a sliding sixth-chord theme (later cal effects, and idiosyncratic phrasing in a
and particularly on "Johnny's After Hours heard in Berry's "Memphis" solo), motifs live jam complete with knowing witticisms
(Lazy Blues)," no doubt prompted similar of parallel-sixth intervals (foreshadowing uttered during the performance.
episodes in Hubert Sumlin's (and others') Freddie King in "Hide Away"), portamento
playing. In his improvisations, he favored fall-off embellishments, laid-back and elastic ESSENTIAL LISTENING
major-blues melodies that adhered to jazzier rhythmic phrasing with changing dynamics,
"Merry Christmas Baby," "Drifting Blues,"
note-to-chord relationships as well as more- trills, and ghost notes, and his reinterpretation and "New Orleans Blues" are definitive Three
primitive, straight pentatonic licks. Moore's of T-Bone licks and swing-blues melodies with Blazers tracks with Charles Brown. Be Cool:
string bending rarely exceeded a half-step, a mix of subtle bent notes and jazz-informed The Modern and Dolphin Sessions is a worthy
owing partially to the heavier strings used by lines. To underscore the reach of his influ- compilation of later recordings featuring the
amplified archtop players of the era, but was ence beyond the immediate blues guitarists band's expanded ensemble with Oscar Moore
slinky, soulful, and vocalesque in rhythmic of the next generation, take a listen to Wes and numerous post-Brown vocalists.
placement and delivery.
Montgomery's "After Hours Blues" (Echoes
Moore was a master of slow blues as exempli- of Indiana Avenue), an impromptu homage SOUND
fied by "Johnny's After Hours (Lazy Blues)," that reveals the jazz guitarist's embrace of
In the earliest years of electric blues,