Oscar Moore (1916 - 1981), and his brother Johnny Moore, began studying the guitar in Texas as grade schoolers and by the time they were teenagers they were both playing professionally. The Moore brothers played rhythm and blues together until Oscar was drawn to jazz by another Texas guitar player, Charlie Christian. Johnny Moore continued to pursue R & B.
Oscar Moore moved to Los Angeles in the 1930's and by that time he was already an accomplished jazz musician. In Los Angeles he played with both the Lionel Hampton and Art Tatum groups and was later picked up by Nat Cole for a job at a Los Angeles night club. The legend goes that the drummer didn't show up for the group's first show and the trio was born.
Oscar Moore's work with the Nat King Cole Trio lasted 10 years and brought him to the forefront of jazz guitarists. Many of his contemporaries and guitarists who came later have acknowledged a huge debt to Oscar Moore. First, Barney Kessel has said, Oscar Moore almost single handedly created the role of the jazz guitar in small combos. And, Kenny Burrell has acknowledged Oscar Moore as the first guitarist he knew of who used the modern jazz chord formations so common today. Oscar Moore's influence is also heard in the playing of young guitarists like Joshua Breakstone.
Oscar Moore won several awards for his playing, most notably from Downbeat, Metronome and Esquire in the early forties. When the King Cole Trio broke up in the late forties, Moore went to work as a session guitarist in Los Angeles and he began playing again with his brother. He appears as a guest on a number of recordings by Johnny Moore's Three Blazers. Eventually he left music altogether except for a brief period in the 1960's.
He settled in Los Angeles as a bricklayer and passed away in 1981.
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