Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Current mood: sad
We are devastated by today's passing of our brother and mentor, LeRoi Moore. Not only was he one of the kindest, most generous, most deeply intelligent and hilarious people one could ever hope to meet, but he was one of the greatest saxophonists ever to walk this rock. He'd scoff at the notion, but those who know, know. We are blessed to have shared air with him. He was also our biggest supporter -- "thanks" doesn't remotely do it justice.
As many of our fans know, we've been working on a re-do of our first album, which featured Roi on 5 tracks -- an album that he prodded us to do in the first place. The re-do of the title track, In November Sunlight, features a solo from LeRoi that moves us to the core. So, here's a non-mix, bass-heavy and not ready for prime time, with an absolutely beautiful LeRoi solo. You need to hear it.
In November Sunlight, 2008
(dead link -- see footnote below)
You gotta listen past the raw, bass-heavy nature of this mix. This is not even a mix, per se, just some tracks quickly exported out of my computer program for us to listen to as we work on the record. In fact, Houston and I had been talking about sending a clip to Roi, but kept holding back, wanting to wait for a nice mix. Big regret, as I think he would have been surprised to know that there was a take that good in the can from those sessions. But I believe that in some way, he's hearing it now.
The thing about Leroi -- and the reason so many millions of people feel a sense of personal loss -- is that his music was completely devoid of bullshit. Like any musician, he had musical peaks and valleys, but he never played an inauthentic note. No musical exhibitionism from Leroi Moore; it was always pure communication. That's why, even though he lurked in the shadows of the bandstand, didn't sing the songs, or rap to the audience, people felt they knew him. And they DID know him -- they knew the essence of who he was, because he made the choice to speak honestly through his horn. To use his horn to actually reach people, and not simply (or simplemindedly) to try to impress them. He could start anywhere in the measure, end anywhere in the measure, and it always flowed. It was an effortlessly beautiful floating and weaving of melody, phrasing and dynamics expertly controlled -- like a captivating storyteller. Never forced. Never clever for cleverness' sake. It wasn't jazz, it wasn't folk, it wasn't rock, it wasn't classical. And it wasn't about eclectically mashing those together in a conscious way. LeRoi's music was the result of a brilliant and open-minded student of music taking it all in and speaking back to us, naturally.
Houston used to tell him that he was in his "top five," and Leroi would scoff at that notion, modest and obviously made uncomfortable by the suggestion. But damn it, it's true for me, too. Sure, you've got your Coltrane and you've got your Wayne Shorter and maybe a couple of others -- absolute unequivocal masters of the instrument -- but if I could have called any living saxophonist to play my music and serve it the way I envision it to be and without having to explain it, it would have always been him. A kindred spirit, a master musician whose level I won't attain in a couple of lifetimes, and a beautiful person who simply breathed when he played. God Bless you, Leroi. I miss you and I think you'll dig this take.
(Note: the version of In November Sunlight referenced here is no longer available. To hear the final "album" version, go to myspace.com/sokoband)