by Thaddeus Krolicki
(Photo by James Fraher)
The blues community is mourning the loss of one of the unsung legends of Chicago blues piano, Aaron Moore, who passed away on Wednesday, November 27th, at the age of 95. Although he may have been an unfamiliar name outside of Chicago, Moore was an immensely talented blues musician and performer whose career left a great impression on his fellow musicians and fans.
Born in Greenwood, Mississippi, Moore’s date of birth is believed to be February 11th, 1918. His early influences on the piano included Curtis Jones and Memphis Slim. Upon moving to Chicago, he was mentored by the legendary Roosevelt Sykes. For many decades, however, his music career was relegated to the sideline while he held down a job with the City of Chicago. After retiring in the early 1990s, Moore was able to focus on his music, being featured prominently on guitarist Brewer Phillip’s 1996 Delmark Records release, Homebrew.
Moore himself began his long overdue solo recording career at Delmark, beginning with Hello World in 1996 and followed by Boot Em’ Up in 1999. These albums pair Moore with blues guitar master James Wheeler, as well as bassists Willie Black and Bob Stroger and drummers Robert “Huckleberry Hound” Wright and Willie “Big Eyes” Smith. They combine Moore’s deep, boogie-woogie inflected piano with his witty songwriting to create classic, ensemble Chicago blues. More recently, Moore had contributed his talents to albums by Billy Flynn, Rob Stone and the duo of Chris James and Patrick Rynn. He appears on the latter’s forthcoming Earwig Records release, Barrelhouse Stomp.
World-renowned blues pianist Barrelhouse Chuck first met Moore in the mid-1980s when he came to sit in with Sunnyland Slim. Chuck said he was blown away by Moore’s amazing Roosevelt Sykes-influenced vocals and piano. To him, Moore’s style represented the country-to-urban blues style of the 1930s. He adds, “Moore was a sweet, beautiful, shy guy who was always well-dressed and up there with fellow piano legends like Sunnyland Slim and Pinetop Perkins.”
[pullquote]“Moore was a sweet, beautiful, shy guy who was always well-dressed and up there with fellow piano legends like Sunnyland Slim and Pinetop Perkins.”[/pullquote]
Veteran blues musician “Mojo” Mark Cihlar, who used to perform with Moore and legendary drummer Kansas City Red, describes Moore as a very humble, gem of guy who always put his family first. In recent performances, Delmark label mate Jimmy Burns has included a moving rendition of Moore’s song, “Wading in Deep Water.” Moore will be greatly missed on Chicago’s blues scene. Thankfully, he left behind an excellent body of work and many musicians on whom his influence can be felt.
A special thanks to Bob Corritore for providing additional biographical information.