Some remembrances of Brew Moore in Scandinavia

by Lars Sjösten, pianist, Stockholm, Sweden

Brew Moore with Lars Gullin at the Golden Circle (the beginning of the sixties)

      During the first half of the sixties I often played at the jazz restaurant The Golden Circle in Stockholm.
      Many great American musicians used to play there two weeks at a time with a local rhythm section. Swedish baritone saxophonist Lars Gullin, who then lived in Copenhagen, often played there, too. Once he came with American tenor saxophonist Brew Moore, who also lived in Copenhagen. They had made a record together in Copenhagen. They played beautifully and there was a nice rapport between them. One night after the gig they showed up at the flat where some other musicians and I lived. The place was crowded and there was no place sitting. At one time somebody got up to go to the kitchen. Brew quickly took his place and contentedly said: "If you rise, you lose!" It sounded like a very important familiar quotation.

Brew in Århus

       In the first half of the sixties I did some work as the pianist in the rhythm section at the jazz club Karavellen in Århus, Denmark. American musicians used to play there as guest soloists for a couple of weeks at a time. Here I got to know Brew Moore better. We soon took a liking to each other. He lent me a book by Damon Runyon and I lent him one by John Le Carré. About that one he said: "Hey, this guy can write!"

      A lot of beer was consumed on all hands in those days. In Denmark they have some really strong beer of various brands. Brew always drank Fine Festival. I asked why he never tried any other brand. He looked at me and said: "Why?! It´s got my name on it!!" At a closer inspection of the label I could read, in a smaller print: "Fine Brew". Later, back in Stockholm, I composed a tune and called it AIt´s Got My Name on It".

      One night Brew didn´t show up for work. The next day I went to his small hotel to see what had happened. After several knocks I heard him say: "It´s open!" I went in and got to see the other side of the travelling freelance jazz musician´s life. He was lying in the bed and there were empty beer bottles everywhere. He was not in good shape. I tried to talk to him but he said: "I´m gonna quit playing, man!" AOh no . . . ", I started; "I´m dead serious!!" he broke out and I felt as if he meant it. However, the next night he was back at the club and with him was Hanne, a very lovely lady from Copenhagen. I´m not sure if they were married or not, but they lived together. Brew looked much better and obviously it was fun to play again.

Brew arrives in Stampen (1970?)

      One night, I think it was in 1970 I was playing at the jazz pub Stampen (The Pawnshop) in Stockholm´s Old Town. Suddenly, in the middle of a tune, I noticed some commotion at the entrance. Brew Moore emerged and made his way through the crowd while unpacking his saxophone case. By the time he got up on the stage he was already in full swing and blew a solo with his inimitable sound and swing, saxophone tilted sideways much like Lester Young. I later learned that he just had arrived in Stockholm with the train from Copenhagen.

Brew stayed on in Stockholm. With him was Elaine, a black lady with a black hat that she claimed had belonged to Lester Young. She seemed to have a bad temper and was frequently very angry. They often argued. Elaine would say: "You white guys only have two-thirds of what it takes to be a real SOUL!!" Brew would answer: "Why don´t you go back to Africa!?" It all sounded like regular daily conversation.

We often played at The Pawnshop and in Gamlingen, the jazz cellar below. A recording was made for Sonet with Brew, bass player Sture Nordin, drummer Fredrik Norén and myself on piano. The results were two LP´s: BREW´S STOCKHOLM DEW (Sonet SNTF624) and NO MORE BREW, issued in 1981 on Storyville SLP-4019. Sam Charters wrote some very good liner notes on that first LP. It seems I can´t find it today. Fredrik Norén said that he thought the LP´s had recently been reissued on CD. The producer then was Rune Öfverman.

We used to play a  C minor tune  by Tony Fruscella with nice chords and bass lines. It was called "Baite". I once asked Brew what the title meant. He stared at me for a long time and finally said: BAITHOFVEN!!!  (Of course.)

  Hultsfred

Once in the beginning of the seventies we made a tour in the south of Sweden with Rolf Ericson, Lars Gullin and Brew Moore. We came to the small village of Hultsfred (which in 1998 is famous for its rock festival). Lars Gullin had a few sextet arrangements and we rehearsed in the afternoon. On one tune the drummer had problems with the tempo. Brew was not happy. We went for dinner and came back. Before the concert the drummer hammered a couple of nails in the floor so the bass drum wouldn´t slide. When Brew heard that, he called across the stage: "That´s right! Now you´ve got it! That´s the right tempo!"

 Coda

Brew Moore died 19 August 1973 after a fall down a staircase at the Tivoli, Copenhagen.

Copyright ©1998 Lars Sjösten, Farsta, Sweden