Michael Moore Quartet
Tuesday, April 15th, 8 p.m.| Morris Graves Museum of Art
"Moore seems so much his own man that there’s no critical language large enough to contain his expressive range."
—Richard Cook & Brian Morton, The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings
"[Michael Moore has] established himself as one of the finest jazz musicians working anywhere, either in the mainstream or the avant-garde."
—Peter Margasak, Chicago Reader
It was like this: Jazz Night at the Humboldt Folklife Festival, July 2012. End of the evening. Michael Moore was in town visiting family, and Shao Way Wu, about to desert Humboldt County for Portland, had persuaded Michael to sit in on what turned out to be an expanded version of his Coconino Trio (Tommy Fitzmaurice was on drums and another returned native, Anthony Diamond, made a surprise walk-on on tenor sax). It was a beautiful group, a serendipitous combination of well-matched sensibilities. But we were marveling especially at Michael’s playing: the clear tone, the effortless technique, the attentiveness, the generosity…it was all pretty magical, one of those ineffable experiences you try to relish as they’re happening and strive vainly to recapture afterwards. They say you could listen to a good actor read the phone book. We could listen to Michael Moore play the phone book. “Why,” we found ourselves asking, “aren’t we getting this guy to play here every year?” Well. This year we finally managed it.
Of course Michael needs no introduction to most local music fans; he’s one of Humboldt’s favorite sons. Back in the 1970s, he and brother Gregg were at the center of a scene in Old Town Eureka that saw the formation of groups like The Persons and Joint Session. Eventually both Moores disappeared across the pond, and Michael has been a lodestar of the Dutch improvised music firmament for over three decades now, a key member of the legendary ICP Orchestra and a leader of influential bands like Trio Clusone and Jewels & Binoculars. And while it’s undoubtedly true that he’s a Talent Deserving of Wider Recognition (as the DownBeat critics poll has put it, more than once), you won’t find many musicians on either side of the Atlantic who need clueing in. Over the years, Michael has played and recorded with plenty of continentals, but also with groups led by Americans Mark Helias, Gerry Hemingway, Dave Douglas, Myra Melford, Mark Dresser, and Fred Hersch. (One of our very favorite entries in the long Michael Moore discography, in fact, is a heartbreakingly gorgeous duet record with Hersch called This We Know.) Last summer, the iconoclastic saxophonist John Zorn invited Michael to program a week-long residency at his celebrated East Village performance space The Stone, and the personnel of the ensembles Michael led over the course of those six nights amount to a Who’s Who of New York’s outcat improvisers: Drew Gress, Tom Rainey, Fay Victor, Sylvie Courvoisier, Mark Feldman, Kenny Wolleson, Mary Halvorson, Gerald Cleaver, Tony Malaby, Michael Formanek, Guy Klucevsek…everybody lined up for a rare chance to play with Michael Moore. Asked last year by NPR to discuss five clarinetists “whose work has enriched [his] life,” fellow multi-reedist Ben Goldberg unhesitatingly named Moore for his “seamless, liquid tone” and his gift for writing haunting melodies.
We’ve actually been lucky enough to host Michael twice before, once with the ICP Orchestra and again with the cooperative trio Holshouser, Bennink and Moore. This time, though, he’s returning as a leader, and his group includes another former local (and longtime collaborator), the inventive and swinging drummer Michael Vatcher. The band’s other two members, pianist Harmen Fraanje and bassist Clemens van der Feen, are natives of the Netherlands, Moore and Vatcher’s home base for the past thirty-plus years—not to mention bandleaders and recording artists in their own right. Like Michael himself, the quartet’s playing is, in the words on one critic, “warm and subtly subversive,” informed by the tradition, but always willing to go wherever the music leads. We’re really pleased that this time, it’s led back to Humboldt County.
Tickets ($15 General Admission, $10 Students & Seniors) may still be available here at our website and at Brown Paper Tickets. Local outlets are SOLD OUT. We will be selling Standing-Room-Only tickets at the door at a reduced price of $8.
Michael Moore will also present a pre-concert workshop at 3:00 p.m. on the afternoon of April 15 in Room 131 of the "Old" Music Building (across the walkway from Fulkerson Recital Hall). People of all levels of experience are welcome to attend, and admission is FREE.
Words & Pixels:
Audio (see also the player at left):
Additional support for this show comes from The Koshkin Law Firm, Libation Wine Shop and Wine Bar, Paul Nicholson State Farm Insurance, Barbara & Wesley Root, Rustic West Trading Company, Sewell Gallery of Fine Art, and Zwerdling Bragg & Mainzer LLP.