Sketchbook: Jazz Pianist Eddie Moore

- When I sit down and write, I kinda, just come to the table with like a clean slate. I'll be like oh, I didn't like it. I liked the first few. Okay. That could be like a whole tune for me. You know, you just start to hear and piece things together and then I'll come at it like a jazz, like okay, well I could take this and like split it up like this and then maybe like format some things.

[Announcer] Welcome to the musical mind of Eddie Moore. Piano player since the age of four, Eddie grew up in Houston, graduated from Texas Southern, then headed to UMKC in 2010 to get his master's with Bobby Watson and start soaking up as much jazz as possible.

- I went to the Blue Room session and I was just like, blown away. All my friends, people that are now my friends, just seeing them like, play like that. Kansas City jam sessions, I think, are like some of the best in the world, like, the comradery is still there, you know. But it's still like, pretty serious.

[Announcer] And, potentially, pretty intimidating. Unless like Moore, your other youthful passion involved skateboards and roller blades.

- We were doing that at a time where skate parks weren't popular. We were finding spots at office buildings. When you grow up with that life, you're not really afraid to get hurt if you're jumping off buildings and, you know. And even when I play, like, I'm kinda the instigator to where like okay, I know that this is what is says to do, but I'm gonna do this, and this, and this and see what everyone does. Some people might get mad and be like hey man, don't do that and then you live and you learn.

[Announcer] The life of a modern jazz man calls for making music in many configurations. Thus, you might find Eddie Moore all over the keyboards with Project H. Or taking an even rockier road with the band Various Blonde. This particular night finds him in a considerably more traditional location, leading a trio upstairs at the Kill Devil club. It's got a baby grand he loves to get his hands on.

- When I hear jazz now, I'm not really listening to what someone's playing like, for the notes. You're playing to the tendencies of your personality. You're communicating with these other gentlemen how you would maybe communicate verbally. I try to go for a lot of ploticism and like, lyricism. Not really a virtuoso player. Not that I don't have chops, but just trying to play things that I hear and stay true to that and then being able to hear more and more and more. I've been really paying attention to telling a bigger story. That might start off like introducing yourself to the audience orally, like, maybe you want to come in burning, but that'd be like us meeting for the first time like hey, Randy, how you doing? I'm gonna play piano. And then you're like, man, this dude is crazy. You know, opposed to like, a normal conversation.

[Announcer] But here's the gig this piano man finds most fulfilling. For the last year or so, the Tank Room on Grand has been an outlet for his band the Outer Circle. Playing for an audience that's open to strains of R&B and even hip-hop that slip into their musical mix. Jazz can never stay the same. I've always just understood that it's a music of its time period, which is why there's so many different forms of jazz. We're all rhythm section players so there's no horn, there's no vocals, there's no one that I have to like, guide. And so it works out pretty well. The Outer Circle released its third recording last fall to the kinds of positive reviews that also greeted the first two, including praise for their debut from the jazz bible Down Beat. But finding places around town to play the music has proven elusive, especially after Take Five Coffee and Bar in Leewood closed last year. Seems the city's most visible jazz venues just aren't booking this brand of improvisation.

- I'm not hard headed, but we are playing jazz. And so, I do think, especially as an African American, it's like, this is rebel music. What works for me might not work for someone else. But I kinda refuse to hear that like, people don't want to hear this or there's not an audience for this or like, at the end of the day, that means that money can't be made off this. We're jazz musicians so none of us got into this business to be rich, like, that's not even. And so, I just kinda find what works for me, man.

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