"Few composer-improvisers can charm a listener like Michael Moore. His cool, silky tone, a bit dry, but not unpleasantly so, attracts your ear to his playing. His compositions seem effortlessly lyrical, but there’s always some odd little touch to grab your attention: a line that, it suddenly occurs to you, has been progressing for an inordinately long time; an ambiguously suspended ending; or an unforeseen change in direction that takes you off guard. His fully realized albums (and there are many) are always tightly conceptualized, clearly thought out, but not creatively restricted. This combination of modest beauty, sly intelligence, and clear focus is entirely winning. His three most recent releases on his Ramboy label, each quite different from the other, are excellent examples of his warm and subtly subversive art."
"I’ve long argued that Michael Moore may be the saxophonist of his generation who comes closest to the sensuous tone of Johnny Hodges, not to mention nearly as identifiable. Yet, Moore is equally at home pushing for the twisted nuances of his time, capable of fierce and frenetic forays, but doing so in a manner that is fitting instead of merely stylish."
/Signal to Noise fall, 2000
"Like on many of his previous albums, Moore explores the boundaries of many musical traditions, moving them into common ground, not of form, but of feeling and depth, giving his music a universal quality which is hard to describe, "holoscenic" may be good description. Excellent album."
march 10, 2009
"One is never sure what one will get with a recording by saxophonist/clarinetist Michael Moore, and my guess is, that’s the way he likes it. Moore’s recordings are all over the map and all the stronger for it."
/Cadence march, 2007
"He’s a formidable musician, though, the most interesting and (along with Marty Ehrlich) most creative clarinetist on the present scene, who makes good sparing use of the over-exposed bass clarinet, and is a more than dependable alto saxophonist. Moore never sounds like he’s “doubling” but treats each horn with due awareness of its personality. He’s also something of a musicologist: there are themes on these derived from Myanmar and Madagascar, and there’s a kwela encore on the second volume of the AJ double set, reminiscent in many respects of sometime associate Gerry Hemingway’s recent exploration of African sources.
I don’t know how he keeps the Ramboy imprint going in these times, but I’m glad he has. I haven’t enjoyed a bunch of records from a single artist so much in a dog’s age."
"During the early 1900s', musicians had to be versatile, they had to be able to play a country hoe-down on one night and then a gospel show the next. With the media still in its' infantile stage musicians had to be prepared to play anyplace they could, old-time favorites to the gentlemen at the barbershop, and also medicine shows,high-society dances, and juke joints, basically wherever there was to earn some money. Well, to say some things have changed would be an understatement.
Nowadays one of the first things a musician has to do is decide which genre they are interested in pursuing, then they practice, get good, and hopefully spend the rest of their career being pigeon-holed by the record companies, and the fans alike. For the most part we are all alright with this, if you want blues you turn on the blues channel, if you want reggae you tune it to reggae, but every once in a while a musician emerges without thinking about genre, with a concern only for entertainment.
Michael Moore is the alto sax, and clarinetist for Available Jelly, he is also one of the main composers, and arrangers along with cornetist Eric Boeren. Moore has also worked in such realms as commercial studio work, dance classes, theater, and concert designer. He has won many various awards including the "Bird Award", in 2000, he has his own record label, Ramboy Records. It is safe to say that the man is diverse, and so is Available Jelly."
On ramboy #26, #27, #28A&B, #29 and #30:
"It’s one of the worst band names ever, Available Jelly, but it has stood the test of time, and withstood the tides of feminism, with albums going back to Le Jelly in 1984 and In Full Flail for Ear-Rational four years later. Founded in Salt Lake City in 1976 by Gregg Moore and Stuart Curtis, the group originally accompanied a mime troupe. Even after that, there was a theatrical (circusy?) feel to some of the early material, themes tossed out with Raymond Scott-ish abandon. Clarinetist Michael Moore (Gregg’s brother) joined up in 1978, with drummer Michael Vatcher and trumpeter Jimmy Sernesky. A certain satirical tone persisted and then faded with time, as did an occasional early whiff of art-rock, but when Michael shifted permanently to the Netherlands in the ‘80s he found himself in a scene dominated by the puckish Misha Mengelberg and Han Bennink, and largely characterized as far as outsiders were concerned by the antic neo-swing of the Willem Breuker Kollektief, whose superficial clownishness effectively disguised a rigorously authentic jazz sensibility. Opposite scenario to Frank Zappa, whose savage comedy managed to keep the lid on an unstirred stew of emptily disparate influences. Moore – who was also a member of Clusone 3 with Ernst Reijseger and Han Bennink, and works in the New York trio with Bennink listed above – still stands some risk of being thought of in a similar light to Breuker and similarly overlooked. He’s a formidable musician, though, the most interesting and (along with Marty Ehrlich) most creative clarinetist on the present scene, who makes good sparing use of the over-exposed bass clarinet, and is a more than dependable alto saxophonist. Moore never sounds like he’s “doubling” but treats each horn with due awareness of its personality. He’s also something of a musicologist: there are themes on these derived from Myanmar and Madagascar, and there’s a kwela encore on the second volume of the AJ double set, reminiscent in many respects of sometime associate Gerry Hemingway’s recent exploration of African sources.
The latter day AJ is co-fronted by Michael and cornetist Eric Boeren, with Wolter Wierbos in Gregg’s trombone role and Tobias Delius completing the little-big-band front line; bassist Ernst Glerum generates the steam with Vatcher. If you were tweeting a definition, you might say Available Jelly do avant-swing, with free elements and occasional throwbacks to the raw dramatics of the first few records. The live material is from Plushok in Baarle Nassau, a municipality in Southern Holland with a famously complex border, involving lots of Belgian exclaves. It’s a nice metaphor for music which doesn’t have obvious boundaries or delimitations. Boeren has a nicely old-fashioned cornet voice, with a tight but expansive sound more reminiscent of Nat Adderley than of current exponents like Taylor Ho Bynum. Delius, like his composing namesake, is able to convey deep joy and a wrenching sadness within a couple of bars. Wierbos, also associated with Hemingway, is a whole section unto himself, a big-toned player (often sounds like he might have shifted ‘bones to a bass or soprano instrument somewhere mid-chorus) with a nice parcel of effects at his disposal. There’s an Ellingtonian tinge to much of the music. It’s complex, but not overly so and it favors Ducal exclaves (“Village of the Virgins,” “The Feeling of Jazz”) over more familiar stuff. That said, “Isfahan” on set one is the best non-Rabbit versions ever recorded: exquisite.
Moore’s working quartet is represented by two gigs just over a year apart, at the Bimhuis on Easter Sunday last year, and at the Muziekgebuow in February 2010. Vatcher’s present again for both, and pianist Harmen Fraanje and bassist Clemens van der Feen complete a group that, unlike AJ and the quintet, is much more sharply focused on Moore’s clarinet and saxophone. He has a great, tutored tone, which keeps the warmth of its chalumeau right up into the upper register, avoiding that adolescent-boy squeak that overtakes even admired contemporary players (you know who you are! stop shuffling your feet!) as they negotiate the break. He’s a melodist, perhaps first and foremost, with more of the “instant composition” feel of a Misha Mengelberg or a Lol Coxhill than that of a player whose first concern is with the changes. In fact, Moore often works through fairly enigmatic harmonics, a legacy, I’d guess, of his deep involvement in non-European musics. I long since gave up trying to work out the direction of his solo work. It’s more rewarding just to go with it.
The quintet date is the oldest thing here, from 2008, but perhaps the most completely satisfying. Again, it has the profile and overall pitch of an orthodox jazz combo, with Eric Vloeimans on trumpet (another player who straddles mainstream and progressive with some ease), Marc van Roon on piano, Paul Berner bass and Owen Hart, Jr. on drums. It isn’t clear whether “Whistleblower” is a reference to namesake documentary maker Michael Moore, but it’s a formidable piece, developed over twelve minutes and nicely constructed through the middle, so its sense of direction is never lost even when the detail strays and explores. Moore told me that he plays European music when he’s with Dutch players and American music when he’s in company with his old compatriots. It’s subtler than that. He’s brokered a fascinating position, a one-man Baarle-Hertog which owes allegiance to both. Step across a pub courtyard in that fascinating little place and you find yourself in another country. It works like that almost bar-to-bar on pieces like “Solstice” and “Meager Harvest” or “Tittlich” and “Switz,” clever contemporary ideas that don’t sound like anyone else around.
The trio with Bennink and accordionist Will Holhauser is mostly in a free mode, with a few Moore compositions and ethnomusicological elements sewn in. Han is great, as only Han can be great, and in the same way that Moore nudges towards it. It’s free music that swings, grooves, emotes and thinks on its feet, funny and serious not so much by turns but in the same register. “Truthiness” is crackling good and though the CD is by far the lightest here in terms of duration, it delivers big.
I think on balance I prefer Moore without another horn around, but he’s sufficiently big-voiced to stand up in classic-quintet situations and by the time Rotterdam rolls around to the closing sequence of “Occult” and “Providence,” you’re hooked. If you know the city, you might have taken the river taxi out to the Hotel New York, the old Holland-America embarkation building out in the Maas – they’ll do you an overpriced lobster but you’re too distracted to notice or mind, a theme restaurant for grown-ups – and listening to Moore is almost like reversing the process, America returning to Europe, flipping the mythologies, reimporting the forms and re- energizing them. I don’t know how he keeps the Ramboy imprint going in these times, but I’m glad he has. I haven’t enjoyed a bunch of records from a single artist so much in a dog’s age.
/pointofdeparture.org, March 2012