What's Hot With Jazz Guitar: Clay Moore
by Doc Dosco
This week we feature a fine player and rising star of jazz guitar from St. Paul, Minnesota, USA. His name is Clay Moore and he has several CDs and a ton of credits to his name.
Jazz guitarist Clay Moore is a rare find on today's jazz scene - a unique voice that strengthens and expands the jazz idiom with sensitivity, clarity, and uncompromising integrity. Clay's warm, expressive tones and impeccable phrasing have been delighting U.S. and international audiences for over 20 years.
Clay was born in 1956 in Amarillo, Texas. His family was avidly musical, and he was surrounded by a variety of live and recorded music growing up - American folk, blues, classical, African, Caribbean, and jazz.
Inspired by popular rock and blues groups such as The Allman Brothers, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, and John Lee Hooker, Clay first picked up the guitar at age 16. A year later his burgeoning interest in jazz was furthered when El Paso, Texas-based guitar master Curt Warren was hired to teach a semester at his high school. Although Curt had his hands full with a class of beginning guitar players, he would often take time before class to show Clay a chord progression or scale fingering. When Curt left El Paso to rejoin the Navy, he told the young guitar enthusiast to "learn to read and learn solos off of records."
After high school Clay moved to Tampa, Florida, where he began playing some of his first gigs and jam sessions in clubs. With limited access to professional instruction, he taught himself jazz theory and history by scouring local libraries, music stores, and record stores, reading every book and magazine he could find with the word "jazz" in the title and building an album collection that included the giants that were to prove his foremost jazz guitar influences: George Benson, Joe Pass, Wes Montgomery, Pat Martino, Barney Kessel, and Howard Roberts. Later, Clay attended master classes with Howard Roberts, Joe Pass, Pat Martino, Steve Brown, and John Scofield, and his diligent self-study paid off. When he made the pilgrimage to Pat Martino's house in Philly, the guitar master told him, "You don't need a guitar teacher. Get out and play."
Clay lost no time in taking his mentor's advice. By the late 1970's he was a professional musician living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, honing his craft in a musically diverse succession of bands that ran the gamut from Top 40 to blues, country-rock, hard rock, and fusion.
In 1984 Clay moved to Austin, Texas, where he added musical theater and studio work to his expanding schedule of live music performances. A regular on the Austin jazz scene, he has performed with Lee Konitz, Larry Coryell, Brad Terry, Tony Campise, Mitch Watkins, Julie Christensen, Alex Coke, Rich Harney, Elias Haslanger, Bob Meyer, James Polk, Brannen Temple Suzi Stern, Rob Lockart, and many others. As a core member of saxophonist Tomás Ramirez's group for over ten years, Clay opened for many internationally-known artists including Bill Frisell, Eric Johnson, Spyro Gyra, and Chuck Mangione.
Clay moved to Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1992, where he spent a year playing with local musicians in pubs and festivals. After a short professional stint in Seattle, Washington, Clay returned to Austin in late 1994. There he chose Austin-based Viewpoint Records to release his debut CD, entitled Meeting Standards.
In November of 2000 Clay moved once again, to South St. Paul, Minnesota, where he released his second CD, To A Tee, and continues to perform, teach, and advocate the cause of jazz.
Clay regularly fronts groups featuring internationally acclaimed musicians such as Billy Petersen, Kenny Horst, and Anthony Cox at venues including the Artists' Quarter, Dakota Bar & Grill, Blues Alley, Jazzmine's, Cafe Luxx, Loring Bar and Loring Pasta Bar, and Jitters at The Times.
Clay can also be heard as a member of the Bobby Lyle Trio.
Doc Dosco is a jazz guitarist, composer and audio consultant living in Los Angeles, CA. His website is located at http://www.docdosco.com, where you can find more information on the 'What's Hot with Jazz Guitar' columns, audio clips of Doc's playing, and many additional features. Doc now endorses Peerless Guitars and has the website Jazz Guitar Zone to help promote Peerless jazz guitars in the US. He also endorses the new Pignose Valve Tube Amps -- great for jazz (and anything else!)
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