Robert Moore – Outta My Soul – Reference Recordings FR-712 (HDCD), 66:57 ****:

Robert Moore – trumpet, harmonica, vocals; David Valdez – alto saxophone, vocals; Willie Matheis – tenor saxophone, vocals; Robert Crowell – baritone saxophone, vocals; John Moak – trombone, vocals; Dan Duval – guitar, vocals; Dan Gaynor – piano, celeste, vocals; Dave Fleschner – organ, vocals; Damian Erskine – bass, vocals; Bobby Torres – congas, vocals; Warren Rand – alto saxophone; Alan Tarpinian – guitar; Alan Jones – drums; Dick Titterington – trumpet; Mike Hankins – trumpet; Bob Stark – background ambience; Steve Christofferson – piano; Scott Steed – bass; Derek Sims – trumpet)

Reference Recordings has expanded their Fresh series to include singer Robert Moore.  With Southern gospel roots, Moore has developed a soulful, passionate delivery. Additionally, he plays trumpet and harmonica. He relocated to Portland Oregon, and is a renowned on the local jazz scene. With the release of Outta My Soul , Moore has crafted an accessible, well-rounded musical statement. Drawing on his skills as a composer, singer and instrumentalist, this twelve-track, polished album combines accomplished session players with a seasoned band leader.

Jump starting the CD is the jump swing number, “All Day Long”. Moore has the classic r& b swagger, and the band rocks out. Robert Crowell (baritone saxophone), Dave Fleischner (organ), John Moak (trombone), Dan Duval (guitar), Willie Matheis (tenor saxophone), Dan Gaynor (piano), Donald Valdez (alto saxophone), Damian Erskine (bass), Moore (trumpet) all solo and turn it over to Alan Jones (drums) and Bobby Torres (congas) for their turn. All of the players help on backup vocals. Outta My Soul is pleasantly unpredictable as the following track is a medium latin-groove adaptation of Shelby Lynne’s “She Lies Herself To Sleep”. Moore’s vocals are whimsical, with a rhythmic quality. Unleashing smooth funk, Sting’s “Nothin’ But Me” benefits from a muscular horn arrangement (two trumpets, baritone and tenor saxophones), and Gaynor’s stylish piano runs.

There are some interesting original compositions by Moore on the album. “Another Round” combines a beatnik, spoken-word scat with some space jazz. There is nice interplay between guitar and tenor that adds to the ambiance. ‘Fishin’” evokes a laid-back slow dance vibe. Moore’s crooning is framed in glowing trumpet/ sax accents and Steve Christofferson adds nimble piano licks. Representing straight ahead big band jazz is “IONO”. The song is arranged impeccably and features a crisp trumpet solo by Derek Sims. There is an Afro-Cuban tempo that Jones and Torres execute with verve.

Moore seems comfortable in most of the settings.  He shines on the satirical “Benny’s From Heaven”. After the ballad-like opening, the band morphs into swing at the 1:00 mark. Despite the comic pretense, Moore delivers a solid performance, and adds a deserved shout out to Eddie Jefferson. The band percolates with great solos, including one on harmonica by Moore. The melancholy “Spring Will Be A Little Late This Year” (sung by Deanna Durbin in the dark film noir, Christmas Holiday) is Moore at his vocal apex, soulful and expressive. John Moak’s trombone adds the right touch of atmosphere to this Frank Loesser classic. “Swan Blues” (by Gene Ammons) is slow-burning, old school jazzy in its approach with emphatic vocal phrasing complementing the punctuated instrumentals.

Outta My Soul has been recorded with superior acoustics by engineer Bob Stark. It is a fresh approach to jazz.   

TrackList: All Day Long; She Lies Herself To Sleep; Nothin ‘Bout Me; Another Round; Don’t Ever Tell Me; Fishin’; IONO; I Want A Little Girl; Benny’s From Heaven; Spring Will Be A Little Late This Year; Swan Blues; Shine On Little Star

—Robbie Gerson